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Friday, October 7, 2016


(Sergey Malov)

Brilliant display by Sergey Malov. (Review by Michael Green)

A brilliant display by the soloist in Edward Elgar’s long and complex violin concerto was the dominant feature of the penultimate concert of the spring season of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, in the Durban City Hall.

The violinist was Sergey Malov, who has in a short time become an internationally known virtuoso.

The programme was labelled English Elegance, but Elgar was the only English component. It is not easy to find great composers from England so the Austrian master Joseph Haydn was drafted into the programme as a kind of honorary Englishman, this because of his two immensely successful visits to London 220 years ago.

An Italian composer made up the rest of the programme. Appearing with the KZNPO were a Russian violinist (Sergey Malov, born in St Petersburg 33 years ago) and a 72-year-old German conductor, Justus Frantz.

Elgar’s violin concerto, written in 1910, is not played very often these days, partly because of its length; it runs for about 50 minutes and is one of the longest of all concertos.

It has many spectacular flourishes for the solo violinist and many beautiful expressive passages adorned in the score with Elgar’s favourite instruction, nobilmente, nobly. Malov displayed a full range of technical skills and a lovely rich, singing tone in the lyrical phrases. At the end he was given a standing ovation by an excited audience.

Earlier the orchestra had produced a splendid performance of one Haydn’s masterworks, the Symphony No. 102 in B flat major. This is one of the 12 London Symphonies that Haydn wrote for first performance there. It is a delightful work, ceaselessly energetic and highly original in many respects. Under the direction of Justus Frantz’s controlled but vigorous conducting the members of the orchestra showed every sign of enjoying the music as much as the audience did.

The concert opened with something really unusual: an early 17th century piece by the Venetian composer Giovanni Gabrieli for eight brass players – horns, trumpets, trombones. The performers (all from the orchestra) stood in the two galleries at the back of the stage. Very good. - - Michael Green