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Friday, February 25, 2022



(Left: Conductor Bernhard Gueller)

All in all, this was a most enjoyable and memorable concert and bodes very well for the rest of the Summer Season! (Review by Keith Millar)

 I was not exactly sure of what to expect from last night’s concert. The Playhouse Opera Theatre is not the best venue for classical music and, let’s face it, our beloved orchestra is not quite the “mighty” KZNPO it once was.

However, and I am not sure to what extent the pure excitement of seeing a real, live orchestra on stage after so long contributed to this, but I felt that the concert was simply splendid.

The KZNPO has been considerably reduced in numbers over the past two years, Covid and financial restrictions being the main causes. No fewer than 18 additional players had to be brought in to make up numbers at last night’s concert.

Despite that, the orchestra played with a vigour and verve which brought the beautiful music to life. Almost as if they were saying “we are back – and we will show you what we can do”.

Of course, the conductor for this concert, the renowned and well-travelled, Bernhard Gueller, must take a lot of credit for this performance. The orchestra responded wonderfully to his precise and neat conducting.

I would also like to suggest that Concertmaster for the evening, Ralitza Macheva, had something to do with the energy and spirit evident on the stage. Few musicians show more enthusiasm for their craft, and this must be infectious for the rest of the orchestra.

And so, to the music. The entertainment started with Beethoven’s moving Leonore Overture No.3 Op.72b.

Beethoven wrote four overtures for his opera Fidelio. However, it is this one which is now generally used as a prelude to his opera. It is a powerful and moving piece.

(Right: Hyeyoon Park)

The soloist for this concert was Korean violinist Hyeyoon Park. She played German romantic composer, Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No.1, Op. 26 in G minor.

This is one of the most popular and frequently played violin concertos in solo violin repertoire. It is appreciated especially for its lyrical melodies, which span nearly the entire range of the instrument.

Miss Park is an elegant and graceful player who tackled this work with considerable skill and aplomb. She was very well received by the audience.

Completing the programme was Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No 2, Op73 in D Major.

Composed in 1877, it is a grand and cheerful work which was the composer’s own favourite symphony.

The orchestra performed this work with exciting vigour and character under the direction of conductor Bernhard Gueller.

All in all, this was a most enjoyable and memorable concert and bodes very well for the rest of the Summer Season.

The fact that the Playhouse Opera Theatre is the venue for the three remaining concerts is less of an issue with me after last night’s event. The orchestra sounded brighter and better balanced than I remember. Maybe I have found the sweet spot at the Opera Theatre (Row N).

Be that as it may, it was a great pleasure to welcome back the KZN Philharmonic and I certainly look forward to next Thursday. – Keith Millar


To link direct to the KZN Philharmonic’s website to find the rest of the Summer Season’s concerts, click on the orchestra’s banner advert on the top of the page or visit