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Friday, June 23, 2017


(Daniel Raiskin)

Magnificent account of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor. (Review by Michael Green)

A programme ranging from the unknown to the very familiar was presented by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra in the final concert of the winter symphony season in the Durban Playhouse.

Under the direction of the visiting Russian conductor Daniel Raiskin the orchestra opened with a composition called Drop, written this year by a Cape Town composer, Matthijs van Dijk.

The composer says that the beginning of the work is based on an enormous water drop building up, falling and hitting the ground with a thud. This leads him to philosophical speculation about the current global political climate, with protests happening around the world.

All very ingenious, but you won’t go home humming the tunes.

This was followed by Dance Preludes by the 20th century Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski, five brief pieces based on Polish folk dances, lively, strongly rhythmical, and attractive in the modern manner.

In all these pieces the orchestra were joined by members of the Decoda Ensemble, a group from the Carnegie Hall, New York, four strings and five players of wind instruments. Their clear skills and animated stage presence added much to the music.

Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante in B flat major is a lovely work and the only one of its kind by this master, a sort of combination of symphony and concerto. Here four members of the Decoda Ensemble, violin, cello, oboe and bassoon, played with the orchestra, with highly enjoyable results.

The dominant feature of the concert was, however, a magnificent account of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor. This is arguably the greatest piece of music ever written, and on the podium Daniel Raiskin led the players with tremendous flourish. His strenuous conducting captured the spirit of the music, and the orchestra responded with a totally committed, overpowering performance.

At the end the audience gave a standing ovation lasting several minutes in acknowledgment of what was a triumph for orchestra and conductor. - Michael Green