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Tuesday, June 11, 2019


(Left: Yasuo Shinozaki and right: Alexander Ramm)

Ramm’s most commendable attribute was the fact that he never fought against the orchestra. (Review by Dr Martin Goldstein)

The KZN Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert on June 6, 2019, featured three wonderful works with acclaimed conductor Yasuo Shinozaki, namely Carl Maria Von Weber’s Overture to Der Freischütz, Sir Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in e minor, Op. 85 and Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No 1 in e minor, Op 39.

The Von Weber began with a sombre atmosphere. Shinozaki had the orchestra under his command and achieved a coherent sense of ensemble, but the performance as a whole lacked vitality.

Elgar’s Cello Concerto featured acclaimed cellist Alexander Ramm. His most commendable attribute was that he never fought against the orchestra, but rather became one with them. He also cultivated a magnificent singing melody in alternation with the orchestra. Ramm performed the first movement with great confidence and a lovely use of vibrato, which was never overdone. The tranquility of the second movement was maintained delicately by the orchestra throughout. In the finale, Ramm displayed much virtuosity, particularly in the ascending arpeggio passages, to which the orchestra responded with equal skill. There was also a lovely interplay between the woodwinds. As an ensemble, the orchestra created a pleasing resonance as the movement progressed. Sadly, there were occasional intonation problems in the upper strings in all movements.

For his encore, Ramm played the first movement from Benjamin Britten’s Cello Suite. His playing was imbued with great dignity and, overall, one can say he played with flawless technique.

From the beginning of the Sibelius, it was clear that the orchestra felt at home with this genre. Unlike in the Von Weber, the brass were nicely together and the woodwinds really shone. In the second movement, Shinozaki had full control over the orchestra, especially during the fugato passages which were masterfully executed. The flutes and harp came to the fore in the third movement. There was a very good sense of melody and motif throughout the finale. The disparate motifs never felt disjunctive as the orchestra had an underlying sense of narrative. The upper strings displayed excellent agility in certain passages and also some wonderful melodious and lyrical playing. The trumpets created an almost chilling ethereal effect with some most angelic passages and the triangles were impeccable in their timing.

Overall, there was some lovely, sonorous playing. It was clear that Shinozaki had established a good rapport with the orchestra which allowed them to be responsive to his masterful direction. – Martin Goldstein

The next two concerts of the KZNPO season take place on June 13 and 20 at 19h30 in the Durban City Hall. To link direct to the KZN Philharmonic’s website click on the orchestra’s banner advert on the top of the page or visit