Classical Gala Concert: Some wonderful music making, but lacking spark

Gala Concert: Some wonderful music making, but lacking spark

Directing the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO) through a wideranging programme, conductor Richard Cock showed his expertise in handling varied repertoire. However, it is as an accompanist that Cock excels, and his sensitive leadership of the orchestra through an array of accompaniments created artistic space where each soloist had ample opportunity to showcase their craft.

Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Music, Musa Ngqungwana, excelled in his presentation of Vous qui faites l’endormie, with each phrase displaying his considerable abilities for musical and dramatic characterization.

Each gesture and vocal nuance added to his interpretation; attributes that enriched appreciation of his impressively interpreted encore, I Got Plenty of Nuttin’.

Horn soloist, Sorin Osorean performs Alexander Glazuno's Reverie for horn and orchestra as part of the Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra's Gala Concert for the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, Sunday 05 July 2015. The Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by Richard Cock. (Photo: CuePix/Harold Gess)

Horn soloist, Sorin Osorean performs Alexander Glazuno’s Reverie for horn and orchestra as part of the Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Gala Concert for the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, Sunday 05 July 2015. The Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by Richard Cock. (Photo: CuePix/Harold Gess)

Revelling in the declamatory wonders of Peter Klatzow’s I am an African, Ngqungwana revealed his versatility in confidently and expressively handling Klatzow’s melodic angularity.

This score features the African marimba in a smattering of instances – infectiously performed by Magda de Vries – yet owes more to Western art music than to the music of Africa; hence, its romantic-westernized tinge to Thabo Mbeki’s text.

Emerging from within the orchestra, hornist Sorin Osorhean and cellist Boris Kerimov appeared as soloists. These two seasoned players contributed well-crafted performances that highlighted the calibre of musician attracted to the KZNPO.

Long-limbed phrases, incandescent cantabile tone and clear communication of musical structure characterized Osorhean’s performance of Glazunov’s Reverie, while Kerimov’s interpretation of Glazunov’s Melodie drew attention to his internalization of every phrase and melodic crevice.

Notable was his ability to differentiate between the score’s solo features and occasions where the soloist accompanies the orchestra, something that concert leader Joanna Frankel in concerto playing must still fully master.

Kerimov’s interpretation of Sérénade Espagnole showcased his fine musicianship and sense for Glazunov’s romantically shaded exoticism. Klatzow narrated his work, Tintinyane. This piece, a story for orchestra, highlights his prowess as an orchestrator with some wonderfully imaginative timbres penetrating the sometimes-filmic texture.

Three works showcased the orchestra, who performed competently but somehow lacked the energetic spark that usually characterises their work. Possibly the lack of rehearsal time led to a reticent approach, but Waldteufel’s Espana was a trifle pedestrian, and Sibelius’s Karelia Suite didn’t really ignite, despite some finely etched solo playing by the cor anglais.

Giménez’s La Boda de Luis Alonso produced the most glittering orchestral playing of the afternoon, with Cock and the orchestra revelling in the rich, colourfully textured score. An afternoon of wonderful music making that didn’t quite have the fizz usually associated with such a diverse programme.

Jeffrey Brukman
Cue specialist writer

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