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Wednesday, September 9, 2015


(Jonas Brolin)

Classy and entertaining programme. (Review by Keith Millar)

The auditorium at St Agnes Anglican Church in Kloof is a voluminous, bright and airy hall – and it has an acoustic to match. The result is a venue which is particularly suited to classical music performances.

Providing the music on a sunny spring afternoon last Sunday was the impressive Durban City Orchestra.Under the baton of their Resident Conductor, Russell Scott, they belied their amateur tag and displayed their considerable talents in a performance which was both classy and entertaining.

The orchestra is possibly better known for concerts of popular and symphonic rock music featuring leading South African artists. But on this occasion they produced a pleasing programme of classical pieces from Glinka, Haydn and Shostakovitch.

The Durban City Orchestra, which is made up largely amateur and student musicians, played with great resolve and not a little skill. It was a performance which was much appreciated by the disappointingly small audience in attendance at the St Agnes Auditorium.

The first item on the programme was the Overture to the opera Ruslan and Lyudmila by Mikhail Glinka. The opera, in five acts, is based on a poem of the same name by Alexander Pushkin. The popular and rollicking overture from this work was an ideal start to the concert.

This was followed by Joseph Haydn’s delightful Concerto for Trumpet in E Flat. Haydn wrote this concerto 1796 at the age of 64 for his friend, trumpeter Anton Weidinger. Weidinger, in an effort to improve the limitations of the natural trumpet of the time, developed an instrument which incorporated keys similar to those of the woodwind. Haydn’s work exploited the new technical capabilities of the instrument and proved to be a great success. It has since become the cornerstone of the solo trumpet repertoire.

Displaying his significant skill at Sunday’s concert was Swiss born, Jonas Brolin, who is Co-Principal Trumpeter for the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra. Brolin who is not a demonstrative player showed admirable accuracy, control and dexterity. His fine performance of this beautifully melodic work was complimented by the excellent efforts of the orchestra.

Rounding off the programme was Dmitry Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 in E-Flat Op. 70. Written in 1945 the symphony is an accessible and compact work in five movements,which in the words of the composer is ‘a joyful little piece’. It is both satirical and humorous, and ridicules the pomposity and buffoonery of Stalin’s Communist regime which suspected insurrection and espionage at every turn.

The Durban City Orchestra concert at the St Agnes Church auditorium proved to be a most enjoyable event. I look forward to their return. – Keith Millar