The KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra has announced details of its four-week 2018 Summer Season in the Playhouse Opera Theatre.
It will run between 22 February and 15 March, to be performed each Thursday, starting at 19h30.
The season will be presented as part of the Orchestra’s renowned World Symphony Series (WSS) which was launched in Durban 22 years ago. Mr Bongani Tembe, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of both KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestras, said: “I am delighted to continue the WSS brand with both orchestras, thereby ensuring we attract the finest international conductors and soloists to our concert platforms in Durban and Johannesburg alike, along with leading South African artists.”
For its 2018 opening concert on 22 February, KZN Phil welcomes the return of its Associate
Guest Conductor, Israeli-American Daniel Boico, with a programme of three concert block-busters. Maestro Boico opens his programme exploring the high drama of Frantz Liszt’s famed symphonic poem, Les Préludes, before being joined onstage by the acclaimed young Ukraine-born pianist, Anna Dmytrenko, for a performance of Saint-Saëns’s dazzling Piano Concerto No 2 in G minor. Boico brings the evening to a close, delivering a powerful reading of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor. Often referred to as the late romantic Russian composer’s ‘Fate symphony’, it bears fascinating synergistic aspirations to Beethoven’s Fifth, as can be heard in the similar device of the four-note motif which opens Beethoven’s Fifth and the fanfare at the outset of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth.
Canadian-Caribbean conductor Kwamé Ryan returns the KZN Phil’s podium on 1 March with a programme of French classics. Gabriel Fauré created his Masques et Bergamasques Suite as a 20th-century musical homage to the world of the 18th century fêtes galantes. Comprising eight movements drawn from music the composer had written previously, the suite premiered in Monte Carlo in April 1919. Its first movement Overture derived from an abandoned symphony begun in 1869. Soloist Liesl Stoltz, is showcased in two short works for flute and orchestra. The first of these, Cécile Chaminade’s engaging 1902 one-movement Flute Concertino in D major has a highly decorative solo part, while François Borne’s sultry Fantaisie brillante, based on themes from Bizet’s opera Carmen, has its own allure for a solo flautist. Sandwiched between these two pieces is the Prelude a L’apres-midi d’un faune by Claude Debussy.
The composition, first performed in Paris on 22 December 1894, was inspired by the poem of the same title by Stéphane Mallarmé. It is one of Debussy’s most famous works and is considered a turning point in the history of music; indeed, the 20th century French conductor-composer Pierre Boulez considered the score to be the beginning of modern music, observing that “the flute of the faun brought new breath to the art of music”. The Symphony in D minor by César Franck (1822 – 1890) is the only mature symphony written by the Franco-Belgian composer. It premiered at the Paris Conservatory on 17 February 1889 under the direction of Jules Garcin. Franck’s fame and reputation rest largely upon a small number of compositions. Of these, the D minor Symphony was one of his last works. The fact that Franck chose to write it was probably due to the success that had greeted another of his large-scale compositions, his Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra, composed in 1885. Like Bizet’s Symphony in C, Franck’s only symphony has retained its hold on the affections of concert-goers.
Dutch maestro Arjan Tien conducts the final two concerts of our summer season. The first of these, on 8 March, features two much-loved Beethoven masterworks, his Violin Concerto in D Major, and the hugely popular Symphony No 3 ‘Eroica’. The great German composer’s only violin concerto is sometimes dubbed his ‘Everest’. Soloists hoping to wow audiences with this elusive work, have often failed to achieve their goal. Indeed, the work’s premier by Franz Clement in 1806 was unsuccessful and the piece languished in obscurity, until revived in 1844 by Joseph Joachim. Since then it has become one of the best-known of all violin concertos. The demands the work makes on a soloist require profound musical sensibility, rather than mere virtuosity. Violinist James Ehnes is quoted in a recent Gramophone magazine as follows: “With a piece like the Beethoven you want to make sure you’re giving yourselves the best chance of musical cohesion.” The KZNPO’s soloist, Daniel Röhn, is no stranger to the work, having earned his laurels performing it to wide acclaim.
Beethoven dedicated his Third Symphony to his friend and patron, Prince Lobkowitz. Originally conceived the composition in honour the French general, Napoleon Bonaparte, whose rise to fame the composer had followed with admiration and interest., Beethoven wrote to his publisher in August 1804 telling him he was naming the work, ‘Bonaparte’, He was subsequently enraged when Napoleon betrayed his revolutionary ideals by having himself declared Emperor of France. He tore the original title page from his score, renaming it Sinfonia eroica, thus rendering the hero he had depicted in his powerful new work anonymous. It was nonetheless performed to overwhelming acclaim at its premiere, going to achieve the phenomenal fame which deservedly abides to this day.
Arjan Tien brings the season to a close on 15 March with a dynamic programme of three superbly contrasting masterworks. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s dark-hued and sinisterly foreboding Don Giovanni Overture is geared create an atmosphere charged with suspense before the evening’s father-and-son duo, Max Baillie (violin) and Alexander Baillie (cello), take the solo spot in a performance of Brahms’s A minor Double Concerto. The introspective nature and finely nuanced characteristics of this great work, the composer’s final orchestral composition, offer a deeply rewarding experience for listeners as its many subtleties unfold during performance. Sibelius’s Second Symphony concludes the evening’s musical fare. The much-loved work marks the end of the great Finnish master’s early Romantic period. Its genesis can be traced to Sibelius’s trip to Italy in 1901, and some of his sketches from this trip surfaced in its wonderful score. Following its premiere in 1902, the work underwent several revisions before deservedly achieving lasting the popularity it enjoys today.
There are pre-concert lectures and they will be held at the Alhambra Room in the Playhouse from 18h00 to 18h40 on a Thursday evening preceding the concert. Cost is R15.
Join us each Symphony Season Thursday at 10am in the Playhouse Opera. Entrance for adults is R35 / R15 for scholars, which includes a cup of tea or coffee during the interval. The final rehearsal is the perfect opportunity to introduce scholars to symphony concerts and also provides great outings for community groups and retirement homes. Please contact the KZN Philharmonic to enquire about special rates and to make arrangements for groups. Contact email@example.com or call the bookings office on 031 369 9438.
Season tickets for the KZN Philharmonic’s World Symphony Series 2018 Summer Season through Computicket. Call 0861 915 8000 or book online at www.computicket.com. For more information call 031 369 9438, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.kznphil.org.za.
Concert ONE / opening
Date: Thurs 22 Feb at 7.30pm
Conductor: Daniel Boico
Soloist: Anna Dmytrenko
Featured instrument: piano
Programme: Frantz Liszt Les Préludes; Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No 2 in G minor; Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor.
Preconcert lecture: Andrew Warburton
Date: Thurs 1 March at 7.30pm
Conductor: Kwamé Ryan
Soloist: Liesl Stoltz
Featured instrument: Flute
Programme: French classics – Gabriel Fauré Masques et Bergamasques Suite; Cécile Chaminade’s Flute Concertino in D major; by Claude Debussy Prelude a L’apres-midi d’un faune; François Borne’s Carmen Fantaisie; César Franck Symphony in D minor.
Preconcert lecture: Ted Brien
Date: Thurs 8 March at 7.30pm
Conductor: Arjan Tien
Soloist: James Ehnes
Featured instrument: Violin
Programme: All Beethoven programme: Beethoven Violin Concerto in D Major; Beethoven Symphony No 3 ‘Eroica’
Preconcert lecture: Dr Teddy Pillay
Concert FOUR / final
Date: Thurs 15 March at 7.30pm
Conductor: Arjan Tien
Soloist: Father-and-son duo, Max Baillie (violin) and Alexander Baillie (cello),
Featured instrument: violin and cello
Programme: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni Overture; Brahms’s A minor Double Concerto; Sibelius’s Second Symphony
Preconcert lecture: Dr Teddy Pillay