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Friday, August 26, 2016


(Conductor Daniel Boico)

Outstanding performance of Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto by soloist and orchestra. (Review by Michael Green)

An interesting programme of Russian music opened the eight-concert spring season of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, in the Durban City Hall.

The Israeli-American conductor Daniel Boico, an old favourite with audiences here, was on the podium. “He’s so full of life”, somebody sitting near me remarked. Yes, and that’s why he consistently draws fine performances from the 70 players under his direction.

The soloist of the evening was Joanna Frankel, the orchestra’s concert master, an accomplished young American violinist who has been a member of the orchestra for some years.

She played Igor Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, a physically and mentally challenging work, vigorous but delicate, quite brief and in four contrasting movements. This is 20th century music, but accessible and compelling. The performance by soloist and orchestra was outstanding.

The concert opened with a rousing account of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s brilliantly scored Capriccio Espagnol. And after the interval we were given Sergei Rachmaninoff’s emotional, resonant Symphony No. 3 in A minor.

This was written in the 1930’s, about the same time as the Stravinsky concerto but the two works are poles apart in style, Stravinsky the modern, Rachmaninoff the late romantic .

The symphony brought forth more splendid playing from the orchestra.

The concert was labelled “Russian Jewels”. Most of the programme was probably unknown territory to Durban concert-goers, and this no doubt accounted for the rather large number of empty seats in the hall. If the programme had included Tchaikovsky, the greatest of all Russian composers, his name would probably have attracted many more people to the concert. - Michael Green