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Monday, March 25, 2024




The last concert of the KZNPO Summer Season took place in the Playhouse Opera Theatre on Thursday March 21, 2024. (Review by Barbara Trofmczyk)

Conductor: Daniel Boico

Soloists: Nina Schumann and Megan-Geoffrey Prins

Programme: Czech suite op 39 by Dvorak, The Carnival of the Animals by Saint Saens, and The Prague Symphony by Mozart.


At Thursday’s concert, the last of the present summer season, the orchestra played to a full house. Their generous provision of a free bus ride for concert goers coming from distant surrounds is partly responsible for that, but undoubtedly the big draw card was the ever-popular Carnival of the Animals.

It is such a pity that so many seats were noticeably empty after the interval. Those who left early missed a fine performance of one of Mozart's late symphonic gems!

The five short movements of Dvorak's 'Czech Suite" captured in their many delicate orchestral textures and dance related rhythms, the lovely lyrical ease of Czech folk music 'only the final movement, probably intended as a grand finale, lacked the charm of the earlier movements in its rather pedestrian ending'.

One has to admire Saint Saens' imaginative musical skill in his delightful description of some animals (dead or alive) in his composition The Carnival of the Animals.

Uniquely scored for the purpose in hand, for flute, clarinet, percussion and strings, plus two pianos, this unusual scoring becomes clear when one listens to each number and marvels at the way in which Saint Saens connected the characteristics of an animal with an appropriate musical description. The performance was enhanced by beautiful life-size photographs of appropriate animals screened behind the orchestra (even if horses stood in for the donkeys at the photo shoot!!), in place of the usual Ogden Nash verses.

Pianists Nina Schumann and Megan-Geoffrey Prins gave an excellent account of their scores in spite of having to play on two different sounding pianos, but they forgot to practice their scales for number XL, 'Pianos' - all part of a 'lark', of course, including Daniel Boico's surprise reaction from the podium!

Depending on where you sat, due to the unsympathetic acoustics of the Opera Theatre some of the important orchestral solo numbers lacked full projection however beautifully they were played, but happily that did not affect the lovely performance of the famous "Swan" by cellist Marguerite Spies.

The growth and development in the 18th century of the classical symphony reached its first pinnacle in the late compositions by Mozart of which the Prague Symphony is one. These late works, each one unique within the usual classical constraints, are rich in imitative textures and clarity of orchestration, and full of unique musical interest. The KZNPO's performance of the Prague Symphony under the direction of Daniel Boico made a fine ending to the orchestra's Summer season. - Barbara Trofimczyk


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