national Arts Festival Banner

Saturday, February 21, 2015


(Conductor Daniel Boico)

Splendid start to the six-concert summer season. (Review by Michael Green)

A thrilling performance of Sergei Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor provided a splendid start to the six-concert summer season of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra in the Durban City Hall.

This concerto has been much loved and much played over the past 115 years but it still retains its hold on listeners, and in the hands of the visiting Israeli pianist Aviram Reichert it brought the Durban audience to a high pitch of enthusiasm.

Aviram Reichert is a brilliant player with a massive keyboard technique and a calm demeanour. He produced a dazzling display of rapid runs and octaves and he played the sweeping lyrical passages with a clear, penetrating tone.

The big orchestra, about 70 players, was conducted by the American-Israeli Daniel Boico, a frequent visitor to Durban. Under his direction the players extracted full value from Rachmaninov’s opulent score.

In response to a standing ovation the pianist gave a suitable encore, Rachmaninov’s Prelude Op. 32, No.5.

Tchaikovsky is another great favourite in the concert hall. His Symphony No. 1, labelled not inappropriately as Winter Daydreams, is an early work (written in 1866) and is one of the lesser known of his six symphonies. It is difficult to understand why it should be less popular. It is replete with beautiful melodies, the kind that sing in your head as you go home.

The KZNPO produced a fine account of this work and no doubt won more Tchaikovsky admirers in the audience.

The opening item on the programme was Samuel Barber’s concert overture The School for Scandal, written to depict the spirit of Sheridan’s 18th century play. Barber (1910-1981), an American, is best known for his solemn and moving Adagio for Strings. This overture, his first orchestral work, written when he was 21, is very different. It is festive, vigorous and witty. Daniel Boico was, as ever, a lively, energetic and persuasive figure on the podium.

Altogether this concert was an excellent start to what promises to be a good summer season. - Michael Green