national Arts Festival Banner

Monday, June 18, 2018


(Conrad van Alphen & Nikita Boriso-Glebsky)

The third season in the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra’s World Symphony Season will take place on June 21 in the Playhouse Opera. Conducted by Conrad van Alphen it will feature soloist Nikita Boriso-Glebsky performing the Sibelius: Violin Concerto in d minor, Op. 47. Other works on the programme include Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 21 and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 5 in F Major, Op. 76.

The miraculous Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, written when Mendelssohn was just 17 years and six months old, was called “the greatest marvel of early maturity that the world has ever seen in music” (George Grove). Written as a concert overture after Mendelssohn read a German translation of Shakespeare’s play in 1826, the piece is noted for its striking instrumental effects such as the emulation of scampering “fairy feet” at the beginning and the braying of Bottom as an ass.

Sibelius’s only Violin Concerto is symphonic in scope, the solo violin and orchestra allotted equal voices. An extended cadenza takes on the role of the development section in the first movement, written in sonata form. Donald Tovey described the final movement as a “polonaise for polar bears”, continuing: “In the easier and looser concerto forms invented by Mendelssohn and Schumann I have not met a more original, a more masterly, and a more exhilarating work than the Sibelius violin concerto”. Much of the violin writing is purely virtuosic, but even the most showy passages alternate with the melodic. Deservedly, the work has long been espoused as a masterwork by soloists such as Nikita Boriso-Glebsky.

Historically, confusion surrounds the compositional gestation and numbering of Dvořák's Fifth Symphony. Composed in June and July of 1875, its opus number is actually incorrect. The autograph was marked with opus number 24, but the publisher Simrock (ignoring the protests of the composer) gave this as Opus 76. Largely pastoral in style similar to Symphony No. 6 which Dvořák wrote five years later, the Fifth Symphony was first performed four years after it was written, on March 25, 1879 in Prague. It was revised in 1887 and dedicated to Hans von Bülow, in gratitude for the conductor’s championing of Dvořák's orchestral works.

The concert will take place on June 21 at 19h30 in the Playhouse Opera. Booking is through Computicket (0861 915 8000). For further information contact or phone 031 369 9438. 
Gain a deeper understanding of the music you are about to hear by attending the Friends of Music’s pre-concert lectures from 18h00 to 18h40 every Thursday evening during the Winter Season in the Alhambra Room at The Playhouse. Entry is just R15. Refreshments and light snacks may be purchased in the foyer after the talk. The speaker for the third concert of the Winter Symphony Season is Dr Andrew-John Bethke.

To link direct to the KZN Philharmonic’s website click on the orchestra’s banner advert on the top of the page or visit