Classical Notes: 11 October 2014

11 Oct 2014


This evening’s penultimate concert of the KZN Philharmonic’s 2014 World Symphony Series Spring Season in the Durban City Hall spotlights  two international stars in a programme  filled with variety and electricity. American maestro James Ross and the KZN Philharmonic open the concert with the Divertimento from the enchantingly scored The Fairy’s Kiss by Igor Stravinsky.


This piece of neoclassical music features the quirky and often edgy musical elements associated with this Russian master. Olivier Patey, principal clarinettist of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra features in the concerto, performing one of the hardest and most attractive pieces of the clarinet repertoire – Copland’s Clarinet Concerto. The work, written between 1947 and 1949, which was dedicated to and premiéred  by legendary American jazz clarinettist, Benny Goodman, soars with jazzy tunes and American vigour.

The performance closes with Mozart’s stormy Symphony No. 40 in G minor. Much like Stravinsky’s neoclassical tendencies, Mozart was often looking back in his later compositions. This symphony features what could be described as neo-baroque elements of contrapuntal writing and fiery passagework.


James Ross, Olivier Patey and concertmaster Joanna Frankel are participating in the KZN Philharmonic current sponsored course for the South African National Youth Orchestra. South Africa’s top young conductors, clarinettists and violinists have converged  on Durban to receive coaching from these professionals, attending rehearsals by the KZN Philharmonic, and learning  ‘What it Takes’ to become a professional musician.


The season’s final concert takes place in the City Hall on Thursday 23 October (readers kindly note there is no concert next week).  The celebrated German maestro Justus Franz returns to Durban to conduct two epic works, bringing the season to a rousing close. The programme begins with the moody tone poem Don Juan by Richard Strauss, one of the composer’s most admired orchestral show pieces.


The work, graphically depicting the well-known Renaissance-era Spanish story that inspired many other masterworks, not least Mozart’s opera, Don Giovanni, depicts  a wealthy man who spends his time seducing women and has brushes with violence and tragedy. Strauss’s  late romantic  treatment of the famous legend, based on an historic story, makes for the perfect introduction to the second half of the programme.


The concert, and the 2014 World Symphony Series, comes to a magnificent conclusion with Carl Orff’s ubiquitous Carmina Burana. The work is sumptuously scored for soloists, choirs and a huge orchestra that includes two pianos.  Carmina Burana takes 24 poems from the original medieval set by the same name. The secular texts tell stories of love, loss, debauchery and playfulness. The entire set opens and closes with the often quoted ‘O Fortuna’.


For this giant work the KZN Philharmonic and Justus Franz are joined by South African soloists Beverley Chiat (soprano), Nicholas Nicolaidis (tenor) and Durban born baritone, Njabulo Madlala. The choirs that top off this exciting evening are all Durban based, - Sounds of Joy, Clermont  ommunity Choir and the Durban Symphonic Choir.


Booking for these not to be missed events, which start at 7.30pm, is through Computicket on 0861 915 9000 or online at


Courtesy The Mercury

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