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Tuesday, October 8, 2013


KZN Philharmonic predictably skilful, supportive and sympathetic of youthful talent. (Review by Michael Green)

Every year Lyk Temmingh, resident conductor of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, searches South Africa for youthful talent to participate in the annual National Youth Concerto Festival.

The result of his and their efforts was a most enjoyable concert in the Durban City Hall, the fifth of the orchestra’s spring season. There were seven guest musicians, and Lyk Temmingh himself conducted the orchestra with the exception of one item, which was conducted by one of the young performers.

The programme was ambitious, with the emphasis on 20th century music, and with no sign of the Bach, Mozart and Beethoven that were the staple diet of an earlier generation of students. The performances generally were of high professional standard. Some members of the audience who have attended many of these youth concerts in the past, felt that this was possibly the best of them all.

The concert opened with a rousing account of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, a brilliant, noisy piece for big orchestra. Xavier Cloete, a student conductor who is an advanced cadet with the KZNPO, was on the podium, and he showed a firm grip of tempi, accents and dynamics, with the orchestra responding enthusiastically.

The other young performers were all instrumentalists, except for Caroline Modiba, a soprano who was given an ovation for her singing of Sempre libera, the famous aria from Verdi’s La Traviata.

There were two very good violinists, 16-year-old Jeffrey Armstrong from Wellington (playing two movements of Max Bruch’s G minor concerto) and David Bester, a Stellenbosch student (Ravel’s Tzigane).

Nathan Lawrence, another KZNPO cadet, played the trumpet concerto that is probably the best-known work of the Armenian composer Alexander Arutunian (1920-2012). Carla van der Merwe, a Stellenbosch student, played Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsody for Clarinet, and Sulayman Human, also a Stellenbosch student, played a movement of a piano concerto by another 20th century Armenian composer, Aram Khachaturian.

With Lyk Temmingh conducting, the KZN Philharmonic was predictably skilful, supportive and sympathetic throughout the concert. - Michael Green