Classical A tight, fun frothy affair

A tight, fun frothy affair

The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra’s Gala Concert under the direction of Richard Cock was a frothy affair. Cock’s easygoing ebullience had the audience good-naturedly providing musical interjections in Johann Strauss Junior’s Champagne Polka, and supplying rhythmic clapping to Johann Strauss Senior’s Radetsky March.

Their finger-snapping added an essential ingredient to Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther Theme. This pleasantly innocuous programme showcased the talents of violinist Samson Diamond, this year’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner for Music, and saxophonist Shannon Mowday, a former Young Artist Award winner.

Mowday’s contribution highlighted South Africa’s wealth of accessible musical stylisms, and her ability as a composer and arranger added to the success of this enjoyable event. Diamond’s two solo slots were excellent. He passionately projected with full-bodied tone and superlative control over harmonics, particularly at the conclusion of the principal theme from Ladies in Lavender.

This is an artist who shows total commitment to each note and lovingly rendered phrase. He displayed his pyrotechnical abilities in Saint-Saëns’s Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, although some ensemble flaws with the orchestra unfortunately blemished an otherwise credible account.

Mowday performed on baritone, tenor and soprano saxophone, as well as the pennywhistle in a brace of works that allowed her free reign to explore her many superb performance traits. Always a passionate performer, Mowday never fails to deliver, and this occasion was no exception.

Her diminutive frame writhed with fervent musical zeal in performances that excited and inspired the capacity crowd. Some phenomenally lush scoring added musical lustre to Darryl Andrews’s orchestration of her South African Composers Medley, and Matthijs van Dijk’s orchestration of her Woza Waltz lent a suitable touch of local musical flavour.

In this programme, the spotlight fell on the brass section, which delivered sterling presentations of finely tuned and carefully balanced ensemble playing. The Tribute to Henry Mancini and Broadway Showstoppers medleys allowed them the opportunity to revel in some idiomatic scoring.

Congratulations must go to Richard Cock for his care and refinement in controlling the textural balance. Pianist Susan Cock, especially in Arthur Benjamin’s Jamaican Rumba, added a not insignificant artistic layer to the programme. The audience, perhaps wondering what surprises next year’s Gala Concert will offer, left smiling and chuckling and it was quite a sight watching their attempts to perform the Macarena dance routine.

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