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Saturday, August 29, 2015


(Philippe Quint. Pic courtesy of

Brilliant performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto by Philippe Quint. (Review by Michael Green)

Music by 19th century composers from France, Russia and Germany was given prolonged applause by the audience in the Durban City Hall for the first concert of the spring season of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.

The high point was a brilliant performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto by Philippe Quint, who was born in Moscow 41 years ago and is now an American citizen. Over the past 15 years his concert appearances in North America and Europe and his growing number of recordings have established his reputation as a violinist of the first rank.

The Tchaikovsky concerto is a formidable challenge, bristling with technical difficulties. Quint handled these with a kind of controlled verve, but what made the performance memorable was the beautiful full tone he produced in Tchaikovsky’s haunting melodies. No doubt the 300-year-old Stradivarius violin which he plays (it is on loan to him) helps in this respect.

His platform demeanour is also impressive, committed and passionate but natural and without affectation.

Of course, the orchestra played a vital role in this success. The conductor was the Bulgarian-born Rossen Milanov, another international performer of distinction.

The orchestra opened the programme with a rousing account of Hector Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, one of the composer’s best works.

And the second half of the concert was devoted to Brahms’s massive Symphony No. 1 in C minor. Rossen Milanov is not a particularly demonstrative type of conductor but he maintains firm control in a calm but evocative way, and he certainly obtains the desired results.

This was an outstanding performance, with some splendid playing from the brass and woodwind instruments.

Philippe Quint played the Tchaikovsky concerto in the Durban City Hall eight years ago, and on that occasion I wrote that he had the elusive magnetism called star quality. That is still true, if anything more so. - Michael Green