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Saturday, February 22, 2020


(Right: William Eddins, Zandile Mzazi & Goran Krivokapić)

Krivokapić was at one with the sentiment of the music and at the same time removed from the orchestra. He was united with them only through a common commitment to the same sentiment. (Review by Dr. Martin Goldstein)

The second concert of the KZNPO Summer Season, 2020, which took place on February 20, followed in the wake of Valentine’s Day and thus the underlying theme was a romantic one. Accordingly, each of the items in the programme either dealt with the topic of love directly or in the atmosphere it created. The world-acclaimed American conductor, William Eddins, whose experience is broad and worldly, imparted much to the concert with his unassuming but thoughtful manner.

The orchestra played the Overture to Rosamunde, D. 644 (1817) by Franz Schubert (1797-1828); Concierto de Aranjuez for Guitar and Orchestra (1939) by Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-1999); Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana (1890) by Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945); “Je marche sur tous les chemins” from Manon (1884) by Jules Massenet (1842-1912); Prelude to Act I from La Traviata (1853) by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901); “È strano…Folllie! follie…Sempre libera” from Act 1 of La Traviata (1853) by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901); Salut d’amour (Love’s Greeting), Op. 12 (1888) by Edward Elgar (1857-1934) and the Romeo and Juliet fantasy overture (1869, revised 1870 and 1880) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893).

Schubert’s Overture to Rosamunde evolved over a period of waxing and waning fortunes in the composer’s life. During the latter period of the work’s evolution around 1823, ill-health set in and took much out of the composer. Also, a number of his compositions were failures around this time. Despite all this, Schubert was persuaded by Kupelwieser to provide incidental music to Helmina von Chézy’s play Rosamunde.

The orchestra’s rendition of it had a stern start and the mood was sombre and foreboding. The woodwinds provided a lovely, sonorous sound of primeval beauty. The choice of tempo was safe and well-calculated. There was disciplined robustness but not with unbridled emotion. There was a compelling sense of rhythm and good maintenance of tempo.

The Rodrigo showcased the inspiring talent of the internationally acclaimed guitarist, Goran Krivokapić. In the Allegro con spirito, there was a Mediterranean cheerfulness on the guitar which was a reflection of Krivokapić’s cheerful disposition as a person. He produced excellent ornaments and a lovely light tone with agile finger work. In the Adagio, the luscious chords in the guitar conjured up the feel of gentle rain. Notable was the guitar’s singing quality and the amalgamation of sound between all the parts of the ensemble. Overall, the whole ensemble created a feeling of such brooding depth and introspection. The guitarist was at one with the sentiment of the music and at the same time removed from the orchestra. He was united with them only through a common commitment to the same sentiment. In the Allegro gentile, there was much jubilance. Again, the guitarist did not resort to excessiveness. Rather, joy was expressed through the timing.

Mascagni displayed precocious talent as a composer from a young age and his Cavalleria Rusticana allowed him to win the Sonzogno competition in 1888. The opera was a great success from its first performance at the Costanzi in Rome in 1890. Its strong points are its melodic vitality and originality. The opera is based on Giovanni Verga’s play Cavalleria and espouses Italian nationalism.

In the orchestra’s rendition of it, there was a rustic wholesomeness and fullness. There was good poise in the phrasing yet the rubarto did not destroy the integrity of the meter.

Massenet’s Manon was begun in March of 1882 and was conceived of as an opéra-comique. In it, there is the tension between Manon’s adolescent craving for pleasure and her devoted love for Des Grieux.

The orchestra’s rendition of it had a robust, energetic start. The widely acclaimed local soprano, Zandile Mzazi, produced a very mature, mellow sound with perfect intonation. She had a good sense of narrative which was innate.

Verdi’s La Traviata contains a level of realism not frequently seen in his earlier operas. The atmosphere of the time period it represents is brought to life very realistically: the world of waltzes is felt throughout the score and the heroine’s death from disease is brought to life very vividly in the music, even in the Prelude.

The orchestra’s rendition of the Prelude to Act 1 from La Traviata was poetic and programmatic. It had an intense start imbued with fullness and buxomness. The cellos were magnificent.

In “È strano…Follie! follie…Sempre libera” from Act 1 of La Traviata, Mzazi understood the narrative as an integrated whole.

In the orchestra’s rendition of the Elgar, there was a quaintness of Victorian sentiment. The Acting Concert Master, Petya Koleva, produced a lovely tone.

Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet fantasy overture is programmatic in every sense. It was born out of his association with Balakirev, who proposed a programme for the work. Balakirev planned the work in sonata-allegro form, with the introduction depicting Friar Laurence, the allegro first theme conveying the hostility between the Capulets and Montagues and the second theme expressing the romance between the lovers. The revised ending is a funeral march based on the lovers’ theme.

In the orchestra’s rendition of the work, there was a good sense of chord- construction within and across the sections. The flute was splendid. In this work, Eddins revealed a more active side through his actions to elicit the correct sound from the orchestra. He was goal-driven and calculated.
The encore was a nicely choreographed number. Again, Mzazi displayed the same effortlessness of approach – Dr. Martin Goldstein

The two final concerts of the season will take place on February 27 and March 5, 2020, at 19h30 in the Durban City Hall. Booking is at Computicket.

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