(Preview by Michael Green)
An attractive rarity is the central item on the programme for the second concert of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra’s summer season, in the Playhouse, Durban, on February 16.
The Violin Concerto by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) is not often performed, and its inclusion on the KZNPO programme has been billed as a South African premiere.
Wolf-Ferrari was born in Venice of a German father, August Wolf, a painter, and an Italian mother Emilia Ferrari. When he was 21 he added his mother’s name to his surname.
He became a composer of operas and instrumental music, none of it much performed today. His violin concerto, written in 1943, is however recognised as a work of high quality. It is traditional in style rather than modern, and is notable for its lyrical melodies and rich orchestration.
The Durban performance will be given by the young Italian-American violinist Francesca Dego, who is regarded as an outstanding interpreter of the composition. She appeared recently with the Philharmonia Orchestra in the Royal Festival Hall, London, and her recordings include the Wolf-Ferrari concerto, Paganini’s 24 Caprices, and the Beethoven violin sonatas.
The concert opens with Mikhail Glinka’s Overture to the opera Ruslan and Ludmilla. Glinka (1804-1857) is described as the father of Russian classical music. This opera is an improbable tale about the adventures and misadventures of a loving Russian couple. The overture is a concert favourite, very lively and tuneful.
Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, written in 1889, completes the programme. Like almost all of this Czech composer’s music, it is full of memorable melodies, and the general mood is one of happiness and cheerfulness.
The usual pre-concert lecture, illustrated with examples of the music, will be given by me in the Alhambra Room at the Playhouse at 18h00., finishing about 18h40, in time for a drink and a snack before the concert begins at 19h30. Entry for the lecture: R10.
Bookings for the concert and for season tickets are at Computicket or Checkers or the KZNPO, phone 031 369 9438. Or you can buy a ticket on the night at the door.- Michael Green