#ConcertReview: Peter Klatzow 70th Birthday Concert – Liesl Stoltz, Frank Mallows, Victor Yampolsky

#ConcertReview: Peter Klatzow 70th Birthday Concert – Liesl Stoltz, Frank Mallows, Victor Yampolsky

Reviewed by Andrew Wilding

Works composed by Peter Klatzow

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

 

Peter Klatzow at his 70th Birthday Concert with conductor Victor Yampolsky

Peter Klatzow at his 70th Birthday Concert with conductor Victor Yampolsky

.

Three Paintings By Irma Stern – “Arab Priest” “River Landscape, Congo” “Peach Blossoms”
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Victor Yampolsky
The orchestra opens on a mysterious romantic scene, rich in colours, with an appropriately arabesque mode. Before long, I found myself wondering why we do not hear more from Klatzow, since he really is very listenable even to the untrained ear. His signature percussion-rich scoring adds excitement and punctuation to his vibrant often playful style. Not long into the concert I was already making notes to play these pieces on FMR – I feel that we should know them and celebrate them.

The second movement is modern sounding yet fittingly pastoral, with (call me crazy) strings hinting of Brazilian Bossa Nova?! Loved it! The river builds into a turbulent section with tricky passages by flute and clarinet – reliably handled by Gabriele von Durkheim and Beatrix du Toit – then sweeps into expansive majesty with adventurous under-currents.

Understandably, copyright allowed only a black and white thumbnail reproduction of Irma Stern’s paintings in the program, but if Klatzow’s last movement is anything to go by, then we are to believe that these are by far and wide the most extraordinary, magnificently out of this world peach blossoms in all of existence! Splashed entries from across the orchestra would not be out of place describing Jackson Pollock, and I enjoyed searching for the instrument that was surprising us with so much exquisite wonder, in a delicious blend of modal melody structures and extended romantic tonalities.

.

Liesl Stoltz flute, Victor Yampolsky conductor, Frank Mallows marimba

Soloists in Klatzow’s Double Concerto for Flute, Marimba and Strings: Liesl Stoltz and Frank Mallows

.

Double Concerto for Flute, Marimba and Strings
Liesl Stoltz flute, Frank Mallows marimba, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Victor Yampolsky
From the insanely technical introduction by strings (very well played) that leads directly into the marimba entry, it is clear that this work is highly demanding for soloists and orchestra. Mallows’ Marimba playing had my full attention for the entire exposition. He has a good balance with the orchestra – no easy feat in this hall, which has been known to swallow up the performances of lesser soloists. His four-mallet rotation technique is mind-bending and far reaching, creating a rippling effect like the surface of a pond in which two fish are frolicking. The part is witty and quirky, as if spoken by curious and fascinating alien who’s language one somehow understands, watching and listening enamoured as each sentences concludes with a satisfying and reassuring fifth or octave.

Stoltz’s flute was a lyrical soaring melody, occasionally passionate and insistent, overlaying the marimba’s rapid ostinatos. She brought her own fire, standing her ground in a stunning rich mezzo tone, often independent from the orchestra and marimba. I enjoyed the nod to Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances and again made a note to play this work on FMR – coming up!

At the epicentre of all the excitement, Yampolsky was the mast on which everything hung at various angles and tangents, holding it all together.

 

The Healing Melody
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Victor Yampolsky
I had a similar feeling about this work as I had for Klatzow’s “Congratulations!” written last year to celebrate the orchestra’s 100 year anniversary – I immediately engaged with it, swept up by it’s pace and excitement, wondering at it’s vibrant colours and shining peeling layers of brilliance, and then it was gone! It is not a short work, but so packed full of action that I feel quite unqualified to comment further before hearing it at least a few more times!

 

Brahms Symphony No.5 (Orchestration of String Quintet Op.111)
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Victor Yampolsky
Few among us are in a position to explore the musings that we may have at some point listening to great classical composers, that move along the lines of: If Brahms had written a 5th symphony, what would it sound like? Musing is easy, manifesting requires a composer of great skill, even if the answer is an orchestration of an existing work. I am both flabbergasted and excited by this chamber work that Klatzow has augmented into a symphony.

There are many examples of works, largely for piano, that have enjoyed the destiny of becoming symphonic works: Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition orchestrated by both Ravel and Rimsky-Korsakov, Ravel orchestrated many of his own piano works, Tchaikovsky’s orchestration of Schumann’s Carnival … but not so many can become a symphony as conveniently as this sonata-form viola quintet. As Brahms’ last work, it strikes a believable candidacy for becoming a 5th Symphony. Klatzow reveals in this work as much ear and soul in it’s accomplishment as he does in academic accolade. I found his part assignment convincing to the ear and believable of Brahms’ own voicings, and it boggles the mind how a 5 voiced quintet can become 10 voices or more in orchestration – where on Earth does he find all those extra notes?

I would agree with Klatzow’s observation in the program, that “Brahms would [probably] have composed a more substantial finale for the work, had it ended up a symphony”, and perhaps this observation applies to the whole work – Brahms may have reworked the entire piece for a much thicker, more substantial sound, perhaps developing one or two themes into the kind of anthems that we associate with the other symphonies. However, I found the arrangement delicious and easily repeatable.

Please take the Classical Top 100 survey!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1bvmQqYbnlBqDYa9Ih3x8zLpZuKqdNcB38wbEL_-jP4g/viewform

 

#ConcertReview #BrightYoungBaroque #CamerataTintaBarocca

#ConcertReview #BrightYoungBaroque #CamerataTintaBarocca

Reviewed by Andrew Wilding

Camerata Tinta Barocca, St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Wednesday 24 June 2015

.

This concert saw the last performance of founder Quentin Crida for the next 6 months or so, as he will be on sabbatical. CTB will continue in the capable hands of Erik Dippenaar Artistic Director, and Michael Maas Administrative Co ordinator. The audiences will miss Quentin’s humour and anecdotal snippets of contextual history as much as we will miss his viola and violin playing.

I always enjoy CTB performances very much and I expect their high standard of playing and fresh interpretation to continue in Crida’s absence. Entries and tutti sections are outstandingly synchronous and clean, and coupled with their ideology of recreating the performance of works as if for the first time, the resulting sound is unassuming and uncomplicated even in the delivery of complex material. When presented in this way, the music takes on a kind of innocent realism that reflects the consciousness of the time, in which these sounds were considered to be new, exciting, and avant guard. The use of period instruments accentuates the relative simplicity of the harmony and tonality compared to the scope of modulation and melodic possibility of romanticism and after, and gives each performance a feeling of authenticity, not only in the sound but also in the manner in which this orchestra plays, having the awareness of a chamber group.

.

Jana-Mari van Dyk with Camerata Tinta Barocca at Bright Young Baroque

Jana-Mari van Dyk, Se Florindo e fedele, Scarlatti

Bright Young Baroque is a great opportunity for upcoming talent to experience playing with an orchestra and an audience, and is one of the central ethical principles of CTB. Jana-Mari van Dyk‘s Scarlatti (Se Florindo e fedele) came across with good projection, a wonderfully rich tone, and excellent control of vibrato – which is perhaps more difficult for a singer once accustomed to it. The simplicity of her delivery matched that of the orchestra in accentuating the astounding mathematics behind Baroque music, which can become lost in over-interpretation.

.

Johannes Visser with Camerata Tinta Barocca at Bright Young Baroque

Johannes Visser, Andante and Rondo for Double Bass, Dragonetti

Johannes Visser (Dragonetti’s Andante and Rondo for Double Bass) is a promising performer indeed, demonstrating excellent reach and dexterity in the left hand. This instrument does not appear easy to play, and a post concert chat with Johannes confirmed that it can be every bit as monstrous as it looks! Besides navigating the distance one has to cover in the left hand, the right hand has a completely separate technique which must also be mastered. This is of course true of any stringed instrument, but the Double Bass is exceptional in it’s enormous size. Visser handled the many challenges of his instrument professionally, producing the lovely warm tones that make the study worth the effort.

 

Jeffrey Armstrong and Stephanie Lawrenson with Camerata Tinta Barocca at Bright Young Baroque

Jeffrey Armstrong and Stephanie Lawrenson, Concerto for Two Violins in D mol, Bach

 It was good to see Jeffrey Armstrong emerging from CTB’s tutti, taking the first violin of Bach’s famous Concerto for Two Violins in D mol. A dynamic and entertaining violin player, his experience with CTB has no doubt been invaluable as an opportunity to pick up on guest performer’s techniques, and this certainly comes across in his performing. Second violin Stephanie Lawrenson is a lyrical and sensitive violinist with a good ear for balance. Despite having a brighter sounding instrument she compensated well, using her volume when required. Together they delivered a very listenable conversation at a comfortable tempo.

.

Camerata Tinta Barocca Baroque concert on period instruments

From Left: Refiloe Olifant violin, Jeffrey Armstrong violin, Grant Brasler Harpsichord, Emile de Roubaix viola, Quentin Crida viola, Barbara Kennedy cello, Richard Moir bassoon

Another emergence from the CTB tutti was Fifi (Refiloe) Olifant, leading the Lalande Les Fontaines de Versailles. This first peace after the interval glowed with a hazy pastoral dance feel, easily conjuring dreamy images of grape vines, white pillars, and terracotta tiles. Olifant’s first violin was accurate and well balanced.

.

Nkosana Gugu Soko with Camerata Tinta Barocca at Bright Young Baroque

Nkosana Gugu Soko, Concerto for Flute in G dur, Quantz

Nkosana Gugu Soko‘s Concerto for Flute in G dur, Quantz, was a delight. In the right hands, his instrument has the advantage of being one of the most beautiful sounds in the orchestra, but unlike the double bass, the flute appears easy to play, masking the hidden technique of breathing. Soko demonstrated both a mastery of this skill, and impressive finger technique over tricky intervals and arpeggios.

.

Joshua Frank with Camerata Tinta Barocca at Bright Young Baroque

Joshua Frank, Concerto for Recorder in G dur, Vivaldi

I must confess surprise in recorder player Joshua Frank (Concerto for Recorder in G dur, Vivaldi) owing to a quite remarkable display of technique for his instrument. He is clearly very talented, but also seems very comfortable as a leader, bringing the orchestra into the 3rd movement with a simple nod that landed on his first note, the first of a crazy run for both recorder and orchestra, and this entry was immaculate! Widely known for his reputation as a virtuoso, Vivaldi certainly didnt let this one slide – the concerto is packed full of his signature style, well performed by Frank with note perfection even during scorching semiquaver triplets that leap between octaves.

Completely in character, Crida announced the final work quoting PDQ Bach: “And now we come to the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the last item on the program.” The first movement of Albinoni’s Sonata IIa 5 in C dur (Largo) charmingly follows for a while the famous Pachelbel canon, and then thankfully modulates and meanders peacefully through the neighbouring keys. CTB was again led by Olifant with exquisite tone and alluring dynamics. Then a fugue begins (Allegro) with Olifant taking the first voice, joined by viola, then violin, then viola, then harpsichord and Celo to make five voices. For those who are familiar with baroque and choral arrangement this is all very pedestrian, but in my experience, and perhaps keyboard players can identify with this, there is something very amazing about being able to identify each voice of a fugue as it enters, played by a different instrument, as each voice has it’s own identifiable sound whereas in keyboard versions all the voices sound the same. The third movement is again Largo, all sweet and sad, followed by another five voice fugue – an extremely complicated form when the voices are combined, and yet relatively simple when each voice can be identified separately.

As a form, the fugue is both fascinating and intellectually challenging for the audience, and I found myself wondering at the modern misconception that people were pretty dumb back then because they hadn’t invented the internet. CTB concerts always remind me that following and being entertained by baroque music requires far more intelligence than our modern completely non-engaging entertainments on TV, computer, or cinema. Were we smarter before the industrial revolution?

What are your favourite works? Please lt us know on the Classical Top 100 survey!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1bvmQqYbnlBqDYa9Ih3x8zLpZuKqdNcB38wbEL_-jP4g/viewform

#ConcertReview: Glinka, Mozart, Scriabin – Olivier Charlier, Elizabeth Frandsen, Esewu Nobela, New Apostolic Church Choir, Victor Yampolsky, CPO

#ConcertReview: Glinka, Mozart, Scriabin – Olivier Charlier, Elizabeth Frandsen, Esewu Nobela, New Apostolic Church Choir, Victor Yampolsky, CPO

Reviewed by Andrew Wilding

Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall, Thursday 18 June 2015

 

Congratulations Brandon Phillips - CPO's new Resident Conductor!

Congratulations Brandon Phillips – CPO’s new Resident Conductor!

 

.

Glinka, A Life For The Tzar – Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Victor Yampolsky
It’s always a wonder to me that orchestras are able to adapt to an enticing procession of visiting conductors and their idiosyncratic styles of tempo keeping and entrance indication. Last night we were fortunate to have world renowned frequent guest of the CPO Victor Yampolsky returning to the helm, with an overture that was both an endorsement of his skill and a testimony to the adaptability of the CPO.

.

Mozart, Violin Concerto No. 3 – Olivier Charlier, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Victor Yampolsky
Charlier’s character proceeded him – in the hush of anticipation before the soloist entered the stage, instead of hearing a pin drop we heard him practising something, perhaps a phrase from the concerto?! He left us to our musing for a few endless seconds before confidently striding on. Throughout the tutti introduction, his reactions to the various part entries were animated and sometimes quite comical, hinting that we were about to hear something of the whimsical, quirky nature of this often over-dramatised composer.

Charlier’s entry and first subject were confirmation of many things – quirkiness not the least, but in addition: excellent projection, flawless intonation, and simply beautiful tone. He is a highly charismatic performer who seems to embody the idea that “presence” or the “X-Factor” comes from the involvement of the whole body in producing of the sound, not just two sets of mechanical fingers. Charlier played with such Paganiniesque intensity (his thrown staccato was immaculate) that at times I thought he would levitate. Meanwhile, Yampolsky kept a stately pace that complimented and offset the violinist’s virtuosity. The second movement was like floating through Heaven on a gondola, eating bite sized caramel clouds, watching Charlier occasionally flying around and showing off doing somersaults. It was “dream andante” at it’s best, an enthralling performance of this concerto.

 

Olivier Charlier, Victor Yampolsky, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

Olivier Charlier and Victor Yampolsky after Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

 

Scriabin, Symphony No. 1 – Elizabeth Frandsen mezzo, Esewu Nobela tenor, New Apostolic Church Choir, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Victor Yampolsky
Our journey began with a perfect entry from the horns over oceanic strings, guided by minimal directing from Yampolsky that seemed to acknowledge the skill of the orchestra, providing the tempo merely as framework. Excellent performances by Susan Martens and Gabriele von Dürckheim, Elizabeth Frandsen, and Esewu Nobela. I was equally impressed with the New Apostolic Church Choir’s presentation, clear diction, and rhythmically accurate consonants. Yampolsky returns to conduct the CTPO next week for Maestro Peter Klatzow’s 70th birthday celebration.

.

What is your favourite symphony? Please take the Classical Top 100 survey – all you do is write your favourites! Click here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1bvmQqYbnlBqDYa9Ih3x8zLpZuKqdNcB38wbEL_-jP4g/viewform