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Thursday, August 28, 2014


(Bulgarian maestro Rossen Milanov conducts this evening’s opening concert of the KZN Philharmonic’s Spring Season)

Classical Notes by William Charlton-Perkins. (Republished courtesy of The Mercury newspaper)

After a sell-out concert with standing ovations in Cape Town, world superstar Shlomo Mintz is in Durban to perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor this evening (Thursday August 28) for the opening of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra’s Spring Season at the City Hall.

The violinist is delighted at being back in the South Africa after 16 years, and has indicated he is keen to do more work in the country in the future, not least holding master classes for upcoming musicians.

Renowned for his commanding technique, impeccable musicianship and versatility which has enabled him to shine in repertoire ranging from the Baroque to 20th century masterworks, Russian born Mintz is one of a royal line of violinists to have been nurtured from a young age by the legendary Isaac Stern. He was taught by a succession of great violin pedagogues, among them the famed Dorothy Delay at the Juilliard School in New York.

Mintz’s discography boasts a string of award winning recordings. These include his famous Grand Prix du Disc-winning debut on Deutsche Gramophon, coupling the Mendelssohn E minor (a signature work) with Bruch’s G Minor Concerto. Other must-haves include his celebrated recordings on the same label of Paganini’s Solo Violin Caprices, Cesar Frank’s Violin Sonatas, and the Prokofiev Violin Concertos. Mintz’s magnificent sound can also be relished on Youtube in a performance of the Mendelssohn Concerto with the Israel Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta, filmed during the Huberman Festival in 1982.

Preceding this evening’s concerto, which starts at 19h30, the KZN Philharmonic performs Mendelssohn’s magical Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture. Conducted by Bulgarian maestro Rossen Milanov, the programme concludes with Brahms’s Symphony No 4.

Next Thursday (September 4) sees conductor Theodore Kuchar returning to the KZN Philharmonic podium for performances of Dvořák’s Noon Witch, Saint-Saëns’s Piano Concerto No 5 ‘Egyptian’ (with Ben Schoeman the soloist), and the Symphony No 6 by Shostakovich.

On Durban’s chamber music front, Friends of Music presents an imaginative programme at the Jewish Centre on Tuesday (September 2). Featured works include three items from Bach’s The Art of Fugue BWV 1060, arranged for string quartet, Haydn’s String Quartet in B flat Opus 64 no 3, and Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, after Pulcinella (arranged by Samuel Dushkin). After interval, the audience will be treated to a performance of Schubert’s Piano Trio No 1 in B flat. The evening’s players include violinists Gèza Kayser and Jitske Brien, violist Claire Hamilton, cellist Nigel Fish and pianist David Smith. Upcoming pianist Rachel Wedderburn-Maxwell is the evening’s prelude performer. The recital starts at 19h45.

Despite the untold wealth of talent in our region, the wonderful world of opera remains conspicuously absent from the Playhouse Company’s annual main-stage agenda. Local enthusiasts, however, are promised a degree of compensation for this disregard of the grandest genre of the performing arts. The Societa Dante Alighieri presents a bumper programme of operatic highlights at the Italian Club, 82 Northway in Durban North on September 12 at 19h00.

Durban’s master pianist Andrew Warburton will accompany three of South Africa’s most celebrated voices, those of sopranos Loveline Madumo and Bongiwe Madlala, and mezzo soprano Violina Anguelov, in Italian opera highlights from Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri, Bellini’s Norma, Catalani’s La Wally, Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana, Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, Madama Butterfly and Le Villi, Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Verdi’s Otello. Other pieces include a Neapolitan medley and piano works by Schubert and Albeniz.

Pre-bookings at R100 pp can be made by email at, or call Valeria on 031 360 7013. Tickets at the door cost R120 each. Snacks included.

This programme will be reprised the following evening, September 13, in Pietermaritzburg at the Dante Hall, 21 Alice Grange Road, Scottsville. Tickets are priced as above, but email pre- bookings should be made to, or via sms to Tony on 072 499 3084.

A reminder that superstar violinist Pinchas Zukerman can be heard with Canadian cellist Amanda Forsythe and pianist Angela Cheng performing Beethoven’s Archduke Trio and Dvořák’s Dumky Trio in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall on Saturday (August 30), starting at 19h30. Booking is on 033 342 3487. Tickets from R200 to R250 include refreshments and secure parking is provided in the City Hall precinct.

Finally, note that the next edition of this column, on September 11, will carry a run-down of Music Revival’s Concert Series at the Hilton Arts Festival (September 19 to 21). - William Charlton-Perkins