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Saturday, March 29, 2014


(Avigail Bushakevitz)

Avigail Bushakevitz gives splendid performance of Mozart violin concerto. (Review by Michael Green)

Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 was the superior item on the programme of the last concert of the KZN Philharmonic’s summer season in the Durban City Hall.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was the king of concerto writers: 27 for the piano, five for solo violin, and others for horn, clarinet, flute, bassoon and various combinations. The five violin works were written in Salzburg in 1775, when the composer was 19 years old. They are all lovely, and No. 5, in A major, K.219, is generally reckoned to be the finest, an astonishing achievement for a boy of 19.

This composition was given a splendid performance by the 26-year-old violinist Avigail Bushakevitz, who was born in Jerusalem but came to South Africa when she was one year old and grew up at George in the Cape.A graduate of the Juilliard School in New York, she has at a relatively tender age built up extensive concert experience here and in America and Europe.  She has played in Durban before, and in this latest appearance she amply confirmed the glowing opinions formed earlier by those who have heard her.

Her tone, phrasing and dynamics were first class, and she showed the skills of a true virtuoso in the concerto’s joyous rapid passages.

The orchestra, under the direction of the visiting German conductor Frank Cramer, were again in fine form.  Mozart’s graceful and effortless flow of melody was articulated with accuracy and style, and the results were warmly applauded by the audience.

The concert opened with a spirited account of Weber’s well-known overture to his opera Der Freischutz, The Marksman, and after the interval we had Mendelssohn’s Symphony No 5 in  D minor, the Reformation Symphony, so named because it was written for a major anniversary of the Lutheran church.

There are some ironies here. Mendelssohn had a Jewish background and he, with other members of his family, became Lutherans for reasons of convenience rather than conviction. This symphony was written when he was 20 years old and it is, I think, portentous rather than profound (the composer himself did not care for it much). Nevertheless it has its moments, particularly in the famous Dresden Amen in the first movement, in the typically Mendelssohnian Vivace of the second movement, and in the scoring for the brass instruments.

It is not the greatest symphony ever written, but the orchestra gave a fine and  convincing performance of it. - Michael Green