Classical Beguiling Boikanyo and an orchestra of rare quality

Beguiling Boikanyo and an orchestra of rare quality

Guest concert master of the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, American violinist Joanna Frankel, continued her fine form in leading this prestigious orchestra with assurance and musical flair.

With superb musicianship and obvious dedication to the task, this orchestra proved their reputation as South Africa’s finest symphonic ensemble. It was sheer joy to listen and appreciate their music making. An animated Richard Cock conducted the orchestra and extracted a well crafted performance, keenly attentive to textural balance and sensuous characterisation of sumptuous orchestration in the opening overture from Massenet’s Phaedre.

Two cameo movements from Debussy’s Petite Suite received delicate shading and subtle treatment amidst a translucently controlled texture.

Standard Bank Young Artist for Music, Kelebogile Boikanyo’s contribution was a significant improvement on her inaugural recital. Today there was no trace of an overly preponderant use of chest voice, as her voice moved effortlessly across registers, and soared without restraint and resonance in the upper tessitura.

Rusalka’s Song to the Moon displayed Boikanyo’s burgeoning lyricism, while her interpretation of The Jewel Song from Faust created ample opportunities for her to present her promising dramatic abilities.

In her opening aria, Come Scoglio from Cosi Fan Tutte, Boikanyo demonstrated her fine understanding of the Classical style. Hers is a talent worth watching.

Magda de Vries’s performance

Marimba specialist Magda de Vries beguiled the audience with a stylishly rendered arrangement of Monti’s Czardas, followed by a blisteringly feverish performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee.

In the latter, De Vries’s thoughtful shaping of phrases and attentive manipulation of nuance while controlling a plethora of breakneck speed semiquavers, displayed her superior musicianship and thorough understanding of the instrument.

De Vries has long been a shining star in South Africa’s musical firmament, and Richard Cock deserves a special word of thanks for bringing her treasure trove of talent to the attention of a wider audience.

The concert ended with a rousing performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with audience participation adding appropriately timed cannon-like interjections. Here the orchestra were brilliantly showcased with the rich string sound, and forceful yet controlled brass playing deserving of special mention.

A superbly entertaining evening well received by the enthusiastic audience. Long may the Festival’s association with this phenomenal orchestra continue!

– Jeffrey Brukman –

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