Classical An extraordinary symphonic performance

An extraordinary symphonic performance

In music circles the phenomenal ability of the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra has been the talk of the town over the last few years. Last night’s performance by the KZNPO cemented this reputation and finally the National Arts Festival is able to welcome to Grahamstown a formidable symphonic force. Here is an orchestra where each player serves a common purpose and musical commitment, with the result being a truly marvellous musical experience.

The programme provided three glimpses into nineteenth century romanticism: Nicolai’s tuneful and beguiling The Merry Wives of Windsor Overture, Offenbach’s frothy Cello Concerto and Brahms’s masterful Second Symphony.

Hungarian maestro Tibor Bogányi lavished scrupulous attention to detail on each vignette, with his inspired leadership, consummate musical integrity and expressive movements sculpturing a remarkable array of symphonic colour. Each phrase was delivered with musical purpose with, under Bongányi’s careful direction, harmonic ingenuity receiving appropriate emphasis. His ability to skilfully manipulate carefully crafted nuances allows him to display his knowledge of each score’s every crevice. Bongányi is musician and conductor to be reckoned with.

In the opening overture attention to tonal balancing, articulation slurring and carefully crafted rubato set the scene for a high standard of musicianship that remained undimmed throughout the concert.

Jérôme Pernoo’s (cello) masterly performance of Offenbach’s Concerto Militaire was an instructive example in musical communication; the ability to communicate through sound what is written in the score. Doubtlessly, his animated and meaningful facial expressions are as much an expressive aid in his interpretative arsenal as his fine finger-work, virtuosity and ability to meaningfully colour musical phrases.

Despite some upper tessitura intonation problems in the opening movement this performance was excitingly alive with the tangible chemistry between Pernoo and Bogányi irrepressibly adding to the artistic mix. The second movement duet between Pernoo and concert master, Hristo Kardjiev, represented a high point of musical communion: a magical moment in the practice of performance art.

In Brahms’s Second Symphony Bogányi revealed his command over the architectonic aspects of interpretation. This detailed reading of Brahms’s score showcased music-making of a high order with each orchestral player equal to the task. It was a privilege to be witness to such an extraordinary performance.

Bravo and thank you!

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