Concert Review – Wagner, Beethoven, Brahms – Derek Han, Martin Panteleev

Reviewed by Andrew Wilding

Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall, Thursday 29 January 2015



Wagner, Tannhäuser Overture – CTPO, Martin Panteleev
Playing to another full house, the winds made a graceful flawless opening in deep cooling tones like a refreshing current of turquoise, into which the deep blue of the cellos flowed majestically. Violins entered the flow as one instrument, then stirring trombones, and I was reminded of the world class quality of our highly talented and dedicated musicians. Wagner’s beloved wind section featured beautiful lyrical solos from Beatix Mari du Toit, Oscar Kitten, and Sergei Burdukov. From the synchronous strings, Concertmaster Farida Bacharova’s solos floated most breathtakingly.



Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 3 – Derek Han, CTPO, Martin Panteleev
Han’s delivery was as pristine as it was elegant and unassuming, presenting a pure, minimal interpretation. I felt I was hearing the work as I had never heard it before, stripped of the performer-ego of over-done performances. There was a humility about it that included strong emotion, and there were times in the second movement when Han seemed to disappear into Beethoven’s world – hearing each note, like drops falling from a leaf in the rain. In his interview after the concert, Han remarked that each time he plays this piece it feels new to him, and I would guess that this is because when he plays he seems completely “in the moment” – almost like a meditation – not referring to any previous performance, just letting the sound happen.


Derek Han and Martin Panteleev after the concert

Derek Han and Martin Panteleev after the concert


Brahms, Symphony No. 2 – CTPO, Martin Panteleev
Horns and winds portrayed the dawn of the symphony with an undercurrent of cellos, and mysterious trombones. As the strings entered with the 2nd theme I was reminded how brilliantly Panteleev balances the sound by identifying different voices of harmony, and giving each a different volume level. The effect is a wonderful exciting dynamic, not only in terms of the whole orchestra but also in terms of the constantly shifting dynamic between the parts. An example was the cellos led by Kristiyan Chernev delivering a beautifully phrased meticulous accompaniment, in perfect balance for the melody in the winds. I enjoyed the pacey scherzo in the third movement, and the excitement in the finale, dramatic pauses filled with anticipation, finishing with the whole orchestra unleashed, running free into the shining shimmering coda.


Don’t miss the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra next week!


Yi-Jia Susanne Hou

Yi-Jia Susanne Hou

Mozart Idomeneo Overture
Chen/He Butterfly Lovers’ Concerto
Mahler Symphony no. 5
Conductor: Martin Panteleev
Solist: Yi-Jai Susanne Hou – violin

Thursday 5 February 20h00
Cocktail Curtain Raiser 19h00

No open dress rehearsal; limited platform seats
Bookings: 021 421 7695


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