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Saturday, September 5, 2015


(Junnan Sun)

Outstanding performance by one of the orchestra’s newest members. (Review by Michael Green)

Familiar and unfamiliar music made up the programme for the second concert of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra’s spring season, in the Durban City Hall.

In the first category were works by Mozart, Schubert and Johann Strauss. In lesser known, 20th century territory was the Chamber Symphony by Arnold Schoenberg. The common ground in all this music was Vienna, where all these composers lived at one time or another.

Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, one of the master’s greatest works, was given an outstanding performance by one of the orchestra’s newest members, Junnan Sun, leader of the clarinet section. He is Chinese, 25 years old, and he has lived in South Africa for the past 12 years, having arrived here with his parents in 2003. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London.

In Mozart’s enchanting concerto he showed that he is a clarinettist of the first rank. His technical skill, phrasing and dynamics added up to an exceptional presentation, one that the audience acknowledged with prolonged applause. He played an encore, a tuneful short piece, from my homeland, China.

The orchestra, under the direction of Rossen Milanov, was an admirable partner. This Bulgarian-born conductor confirmed the good impression he had made with the orchestra a week earlier. He is pleasant, smiling, always in control, and he drew fine playing from the orchestra in Schubert’s Rosamunde Overture and the grand Emperor Waltz by Johann Strauss junior.

The central work on the programme was Arnold Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony, written in 1906 for 15 players and later arranged by the composer for full orchestra.

The KZNPO delivered this complex modern music with great force and conviction, but after more than a century it is still not exactly easy on the ear. At a performance in 1913 the audience rioted and the concert was cut short. These days they don’t riot, they just stay away. - Michael Green

(Bongani Tembe, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the KZN Philharmonic, has been appointed Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the JPO. He will run both orchestras as from January 1, 2016. See