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Sunday, March 22, 2015


(Nozuko Teto)

Programme of high quality sees a splendid volume of sound from big choir. (Review by Michael Green)

Religions choral music by Mozart and distinctly secular orchestral music by Richard Strauss provided a programme of high quality in the latest concert of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra in the Durban City Hall.

The Clermont Community Choir, the Prince Mshiyeni Choir from Umlazi and the Durban Symphonic Choir appeared in a performance of Mozart’s Coronation Mass and his Regina Coeli. About 150 singers shared the stage with the orchestra, conducted by the visiting German maestro Wolfram Christ, and four vocal soloists, Nozuko Teto (soprano), Ntokozo Nokubeka (alto), Wayne Mkhize (tenor) and Andile Dlamini (baritone).

Regina Coeli, Queen of Heaven, is a bright Easter choral composition by Mozart that runs for only about seven minutes and it provided an exuberant start to the concert.

This was followed by the composer’s Coronation Mass, so called because it was the favoured music for ceremonial occasions at the Austrian imperial court. It was written in 1779 and is a setting of the short mass (missa brevis) of the Roman Catholic Church.

That description sounds solemn but the music is not unduly solemn. It is cheerful, joyous, at times almost jaunty, and singers and orchestra obviously greatly enjoyed performing it.

All four vocal soloists had good, disciplined voices, looked good and had a good stage presence. The dominant singer was the soprano Nozuko Teto, who comes from the Eastern Cape and is a graduate of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She displayed a lovely, accurate full tone, with well-judged phrasing and expression. Over the past dozen years she has sung in several operas and she will no doubt continue to build a big reputation.

The big choir produced a splendid volume of sound, and Wolfram Christ conducted with much animation and vigour.

The second half of the concert was devoted to Richard Strauss’s 45-minute symphonic poem Don Quixote, written in 1897 and still a remarkable display of brilliant orchestration. It has two solo parts, for the cello (representing Dom Quixote) and the viola (Sancho Panza). These were played by the cellist Peter Martens, who is based at Stellenbosch University, and David Snaith, principal violist with the KZN Philharmonic. Martens was outstanding in his widely varied role, and Snaith was consistently good.

Wolfram Christ drew many grand sounds from the orchestra, with the horns (one of the composer’s favourite instruments) in particularly fine form. - Michael Green