Review of KZNPO Virtual Summer Season Concert 1
Review of KZNPO Virtual Summer Season Concert 1
Stoltz was a player assured of herself. The technique came so naturally to her that the line between musicality and technical assuredness was blurred. (Review by Dr Martin Goldstein)
The KZN Philharmonic Orchestra is to be highly commended for continuing to provide music of such a high quality to the public with the means available to them and for preserving Durban’s much-loved Thursday night concerts. It took courage to put this sort of thing together because, under normal circumstances, the orchestra feeds off the energy of the audience. All the same, the quality of the performance easily matched that of the live concerts and was extra-special in the sense that the orchestra had to pull it off under the stifling conditions inherent in a pre-recorded concert.
The first concert of the KZNPO Virtual Summer Season 2021, which took place on March 4, kicked off with aplomb with the refreshing and optimistic music of Mozart and the eternal transcendence of Beethoven. The orchestra performed Flute Concerto No 1 in G major, K 313 (1777-78) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and Symphony No 6 in F major ‘Pastoral’, Op 68 (1808) by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Lykele Temmingh was called upon to impart his solid and reassuring touch as a conductor to the opening concert of this new venture.
Mozart’s first flute concerto was inspired by the players he heard in Mannheim, notably Johann Baptist Wendling. However, it was commissioned by an amateur flautist Ferdinand de Jean. In the orchestra’s performance of the Allegro maestoso, the opening was jolly with a positive tempo and a compelling rhythm. The solo flautist, Liesl Stoltz, produced a fresh and lovely sound. There was a sense of positivity in her playing. Her attentiveness to each nuance of articulation was an expression of this. The overall sound of the orchestra was glorious. The soloist and orchestra worked together, in tandem. The flautist kept the excitement going but allowed the phrases to breathe. The cadenza flowed out of Stoltz, who gave importance therein to the key melodic fragments from the first movement.
In the Adagio ma non troppo, the atmosphere was tranquil but merry. There was an ethereal sound in the harmonic inflections and dignified phrasing. Temmingh instilled a sense of confidence and calm in the orchestra. The solo entrances of the flute were temporally on the mark. While there was a sense of feeling on the part of the flautist, it was not overly dramatic. Stoltz was a player assured of herself. The technique came so naturally to her that the line between musicality and technical assuredness was blurred. In the cadenza, Stoltz had time to appreciate the onset of phrases and was not fettered with the technical challenges.
Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony was born out of a period of great inner turmoil. He composed it during the summer of 1808 in Heiligenstadt. It was part of the culmination of his inner quest, as personified in the Heiligenstadt testament of 1802, and in his quest as a composer to perfect the symphonic ideal. This involved the transformation of the theme to represent the transcendence of a given phenomenon, be it that of heroism, as seen in the Third and Fifth symphonies, or that of nature and its changing dynamics, as seen in the changing natural conditions that the protagonist transcends in the Pastoral. In the orchestra’s performance of the Allegro ma non troppo, ‘Cheerful impressions received on arriving in the country’, Temmingh instilled calm in the players with a suitably stable choice of tempo. A good volume was achieved at the dramatic moments but it was not excessive. There was a sense of narrative and of fading off into the countryside. The players never lost focus. There was particular care in the playing even though it was recorded.
In the Andante molto mosso, ‘By the brook’, there was a sense of rapport between the musicians. Temmingh had a discernable belief in the orchestra and the music. The woodwinds produced a pure sound and gave character and grace to the music. Each contrasting instrument appreciated its individual but contributing role. The players felt the elegance of the separate melodies and motifs. The changes in mode were not made too much of. The players allowed the music to shape itself. The overall sound was solid in both timbre and sentiment.
The Allegro, ‘Peasants’ merry-making’, was lively but not too fast with a carefully-chosen tempo. Temmingh was clearly in control. The solo oboist is to be complimented. A true musician both musically and technically. The orchestra achieved a good volume in the stomping peasants dance. The tempo was highly compelling and never stodgy.
In the Allegro, ‘Tempest and Storm’, the first violins maintained the suspense with their tremolos. There was a notable lightness of touch. The various sections of the orchestra matched each other in sound and style with some nice crisp playing, especially in the brass.
In the Allegretto, ‘The Shepherds’ Hymn – Thanksgiving after the storm’, the players revelled in the sense of eternity that Beethoven so soulfully expressed. – Dr Martin Goldstein