Michael Thornton Daniel Boico CTPO Bartók Strauss Holst #ConcertReview

Michael Thornton Daniel Boico CTPO Bartók Strauss Holst #ConcertReview

Reviewed by Andy Wilding

Conductor: Daniel Boico
Soloist: Michael Thornton, horn
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall Thursday 1 December 2016

Program: Bartók The Miraculous Mandarin Suite op. 19 – Strauss Horn Concerto no. 1 in E flat op.11 – Holst The Planets op, 32

The finale to the CTPO Spring Symphony Season was a sold out event featuring an action-packed program creating an atmosphere of high energy and excitement. There really is nothing like being in the audience on a night like this – you can book now for the Symphonic Picnic Concert, Green Point Track on Dec 18. Details of the CTPO Festive Season Concerts at the bottom of this page.

Great solos make exciting performances. Bartók’s primal, alien portrayal of a zombie who just wanted to be loved, offered mesmerizing moments to Daniel Prozesky clarinet, Beatrix du Toit bass clarinet, Sergei Burdukov oboe, and David Langford trombone, who mesmerised obligingly. The augmented percussion section was tremendous and synchronous with the miraculous CTPO.

Michael Thornton, Daniel Boico, CTPO

Michael Thornton’s Strauss Horn Concerto no.1 with Daniel Boico and the CTPO

Michael Thornton’s Siegfriedesqu opening of the Strauss concerto drew murmurs of satisfaction form the audience. We usually hear only glimpses of this heroic instrument shining out from behind the violins for a phrase or two. It was a pleasure indeed to have a concerto dedicated to the lovely mellow-toned horn. Thornton has clearly mastered the barely visible technique of an instrument that uses only 3 valves to produce every note. He demonstrated astonishing accuracy, culminating in semiquaver triplets at an impressively brisk allegro, third movement. His phrasing was dynamically expressive and he always found a good balance with Boico and the CTPO, always audible, never overbearing. I hope to hear Thornton’s Strauss 2 in the near future.

Michael Thornton Daniel Boico, Daniel Prozesky, Beatrix du Toit, Sergei Burdukov, David Langford, Christoph Muller, Stephan Galvin, Frank Mallows, Caroline Prozesky, Susanne Martens, Kristiyan Chernev, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra, Andy Wilding #CTPO #ConcertReview #ClassicalConcertReview

Daniel Boico with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra Spring Season finale: Holst Planets

After the interval, the atmosphere of excitement returned with the audience as they took their seats for the final act of the Spring Season – Holst’s Planets. Mars burst into synchronous staccato from every string player in a truly amazing performance of rhythmic mastery, brooding suspense, and cataclysmic explosions. In the hypnotic pentameter of 5/4, Boico brilliantly welded together overlapping parts with clear and concise gestures, seeming to play the entire orchestra. Jupiter’s arrival on billowing clouds of strings heralded another complex Rubicon of tempo changes and polyrhythms, nimbly navigated by helmsman Boico and a responsive CTPO. Exceptional performances by the percussion section, two completely synchronous timpanists finishing each other sentences (Christoph Muller and Stephan Galvin) and the immaculate accurate Frank Mallows on the Glockenspiel.

There are four awards for #ShowStealer in the category “Starry Eyed Impressions of Venus”: Caroline Prozesky horn, Susanne Martens violin, Sergei Burdukov oboe and Kristiyan Chernev cello. Aphrodite absolutely.

“The Industrial Sound And Magic” award goes to Marek Pinsky’s invisible angel choir from the realm of Neptune, which had every audience member searching the stage for singers hiding among the violas, guessing at off-stage sopranos, or preferring not to ask in case the voices were inside their heads.

Dont miss more CTPO magic on Dec 9, Dec 18, Dec 31, Jan 7, Jan 14, and Jan 22!!
CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS http://www.cpo.org.za/calendar/

Michael Thornton, Daniel Boico, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

Michael Thornton and Daniel Boico at the reception after the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra Spring Season finale

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Yevgeny Kutik Violina Anguelov Daniel Boico CTPO Haydn Wieniawski Prokofiev #ConcertReview

Yevgeny Kutik Violina Anguelov Daniel Boico CTPO Haydn Wieniawski Prokofiev #ConcertReview

Reviewed by Andy Wilding

Conductor: Daniel Boico
Soloists: Yevgeny Kutik (violin) Violina Anguelov (mezzo-soprano)
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Choir of Cape Town, City Hall Thursday 24 November 2016

Program: Haydn Symphony no.104 in D “London” – Wieniawski Violin Concerto no.2 in D minor – Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky op. 78

Boico’s signature exciting tempi and dynamic surprises at phrase endings were a perfect fit for the festive business of Haydn’s London. His clear time keeping ensured synchronous entries from the orchestra that gave the evening a brilliant showcase as an introduction.

The great performers that we have recently hosted at City Hall, amongst whom are Joshua Bell, Maria Kliegel and Howard Shelly, all share something in common. The moment they begin to play there is a discernible shift in the audience, as if every breath is held in fascination. We may or may not admit it, or acknowledge the ability in others, but I believe that we can recognise mastery even in the first phrase, from the way the line is expressed, just as we immediately recognise a pleasantly captivating voice from the first sentence uttered. Yevgeny Kutic’s first words were a mesmerising blend of passion, intensity, accuracy, and sweetness of tone. Continuing, it became apparent that his sound is gorgeous and his virtuoso passages are outstanding. He definitely plays “with the blood”. Seemingly without effort he manages to produce snare drum staccato without moving his right hand. Could be bouncing, could be magic.. Perlman might know: He tells a story about how Joseph Gingold (Joshua Bell’s teacher) learned staccato. Gingold was playing a piece that involved a lot of staccato but he wasn’t playing it so well. His teacher Eugène Ysaÿe (quite big and frightening) was in the audience and afterwards came backstage and asked Gingold “Where was the staccato?” Gingold replied “I’m sorry Mr Ysaÿe, I dont have a staccato.” So Ysaÿe said “Ok I’ll give you a staccato, dont worry just put the violin under the chin, ok now put the bow in the string, ok… GO!!

…But it seemed to be Kutic’s encore that won the heart of the audience: the Adagio from Bach Sonata no. 3 in C – a perfect balance to Wieniawski, gentle calm after the exhilarating roller-coaster.

Yevgeny Kutik Daniel Boico, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

Yevgeny Kutik Daniel Boico CTPO Wieniawski #ConcertReview

Itzhak Perlman Virtuoso Violinist, I know I played every note – Documentary of 1978 youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haxPfFi58ww

Opening on beautiful winds, Alexander Nevsky brought smiles of recognition, with interval leaps that only Prokofiev could write. A complex work, this Cantata for Mezzo-Soprano, Chorus and Orchestra adapted from the original film score, seems on the surface to be a celebration of a Russian hero, 13th century Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev, Alexander Nevsky. But as the supposed triumph unfolds, the undertones reveal a highly sarcastic and horrific portrayal of Stalin, who felt that he should be seen by his people as a modern Alexander Nevsky. Stalin directly supported the propaganda film, for which Prokofiev wrote the score, released in 1938.

Boico brought a necessary sense of ruthlessness to the work, fearlessly unleashing the full power of Prokofiev’s unflinching criticism of propaganda that justifies horror as honour. The nightmarish Crusaders in Pskov and hellish Battle On The Ice are both extremely rhythmically complex and technically challenging works, but equally important is the sentiment that there is no honour in war, only horror. No winners, no victory, no heroes, no reason, only trauma – an unmitigated mistake. I had the strong feeling that Prokofiev wanted us to pay particular attention to this message, no doubt intended for those who still believe the propaganda that makes it ok to use military force to control people.

In sublime contrast were with the sweetest moments of humanity, family, love, safety, and reason, voiced by the Philharmonia Choir of Cape Town, and Mezzo-Soprano Violina Anguelov. I didnt understand the Russian, but her emotional communication and body language conveyed the sadness and disgust of an angel walking through a battle field after it’s over. She entered during the opening of the Field of the Dead, as if picking her way between fallen bodies who died in “honour” (horror). Giving a deeply moving performance of serenity and excellent control, she exited during the close of the movement, as if refusing to take any further part in the atrocity.

Richard Haigh, Violina Anguelov, Daniel Boico, Philharmonia Choir of Cape Town, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

Choirmaster Richard Haigh, mezzo-soprano Violina Anguelov, conductor Daniel Boico, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia Choir of Cape Town

Easy music is easy listening, but great music reminds us to make great decisions about who we choose to be. Perhaps because of the music of Prokofiev and Shostakovich, we will recognise the propaganda of the next Stalin or Bush.

Louis Heyneman, Daniel Boico, Violina Anguelov, Yevgeny Kutik

Orchestra CEO Louis Heyneman with Daniel Boico, Violina Anguelov, Yevgeny Kutik

Beethoven 9 Schubert 8 CTPO Omri Hadari NAC Choir #ConcertReview

Beethoven 9 Schubert 8 CTPO Omri Hadari NAC Choir #ConcertReview

Reviewed by Andy Wilding

Conductor: Omri Hadari
Soloists: Siphamandla Yakupa, Elizabeth Frandsen, Lukhanyo Moyake, Mandla Mndebele

Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, New Apostolic Church Choir, City Hall Thursday 17 November 2016

Program: Schubert Symphony no.8 “Unfinished”; Beethoven Symphony no. 9

Hadari’s “Unfinished” was Zeus-like, a majestic and unwavering rule of lightning rod severity contrasting with tenderness and the sweet rocking of babies. At a breezy 114 bpm, his Allegro moderato was compelling, bringing the audience immediately into the adventure with a sense of movement and excitement. The CTPO was crisp, clean, light, and accurate, giving the impression of a chamber performance. From row D, the synchronised bow movement of the strings is quite striking, visualy affirming the precision in the sound. I enjoyed the contrast between the agitato violins in the first subject, and the wonderful sweet lyrical celli in the second subject.

Sawallisch has a recording of the Andante at around 80 bpm. Schubert’s indication Andante con moto – with movement, may well have inspired Hadari’s interpretation at around 104. Of course this is entirely a matter of opinion and personal taste, and a highly debated topic: one should never sacrifice a work for the display of speed or technique. My 2 cents worth: If the emotional integrity of the work is present, I like the feeling of moving through it. It gives me a clearer understanding of the shape and form of the work. At slower tempi I tend to become distracted in the detail, and lose sight of where the composer is going. Hadari gave us this masterpiece complete in its poignancy, serenity, pristine peace and perfection. Beautiful ensemble playing from the winds.

Omri Hadari, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, NAC Choir, New Apostolic Church Choir

One second after the last note of the Beethoven 9th symphony, Omri Hadari with the CTPO and NAC Choir

Hadari’s Beethoven seemed to take the CTPO to their limit and then hold them there while they annealed, integrated, and grew stronger. Here is the work of a world class conductor forging and tempering an orchestra while simultaneously giving a phenomenal performance that could make mountains weep.

In the first movement Hadari’s brilliant building, moulding, and shaping of phrasing described the feeling of enforced separation. The second subject, suggesting friendship and working together, is denied by the recapitulation of the first subject: dogmatic, primal, controlling, and domineering. Beethoven seems to be describing the human tendency to separate and control one another instead of working together and combining our skills to create win-win situations, as if to say “Muss es sein? Es muss sein.” – Are humans really that dumb? Yes they are.

Omri Hadari, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, NAC Choir, New Apostolic Church Choir, Farida Bacharova, Siphamandla Yakupa, Elizabeth Frandsen, Lukhanyo Moyake, Mandla Mndebele Cape Philharmonic Orchestra #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra, Andy Wilding #CTPO #ConcertReview #ClassicalConcertReview

The second movement gravitated around 122 but Hadari’s tempo was fluid, highly expressive and always tasteful. The Presto picked up to 160, as steam rose from the bassoons and horns – excellent, well controlled, virtuosic playing. It was around this time that I noticed the extent to which Concertmaster Farida Bacharova fulfilled her roll as orchestra leader. With a challenge like a Beethoven symphony in which every member of the orchestra is expected to be a highly skilled virtuoso instrumentalist, the work is very demanding and the conductor simply can not look after all sections at once. Bacharova lead confidently and kept the orchestra integrated through some of the most challenging material ever written for orchestra.

As the tsunami of light washed over me from the angels of the New Apostolic Church Choir flying high over the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, I blissfully surrendered to the ever breaking wave of consciousness that is Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. There was no time or space, just awareness, and in that space I saw an auditorium full of mostly Caucasian people, and a choir on the stage full of mostly Coloured people, and I wondered whats up with that? Did I time travel back to 1980?

In the depth of such beauty and salvation, I felt the national split of the past, and I saw the thin veneer of “reconciliation” over the top, like a band-aid. I felt the bottomless sadness that perhaps inspired Beethoven to write his 9th symphony. Transcending his own struggle, being criticised for his personality and doubted for his deafness, Beethoven tried to show everyone in the world and in the future world, how to stop hurting each other, see our similarities, and forgive each other for what happened in the past. He knew what we went through in South Africa, it’s a tale as old as time and it will continue as long as people control and dominate other people. Spin the globe, stop it with your finger, you will find the same story there.

I felt separated from my brothers and sisters on the stage and I prayed with every cell in my body that Beethoven’s wish, and Schiller’s wish, and my wish could come true: “Every man becomes a brother… Every sin shall be forgiven.”

From what Iv seen as a therapist working with trauma and abuse, forgiveness happens when individuals decide for themselves that they are ready to make real change in their hearts, and their families, and their lives. Punishing can be replaced by forgiveness, we choose it. There will be objections; criticism; feelings of guilt; questions of betrayal, because the old ways of separation are still very much alive, holding us back in 1980. Forget about government, the only way to melt the shattered heart of our nation into one connected functional organ, is for people to do something real every day until it becomes normal: choose friendship and working together.

Omri Hadari, NAC Choir, Kent Stephens, CTPO

Omri Hadari with NAC Choirmaster Kent Stephens after Beethoven 9 with the CTPO and the New Apostolic Church Choir

Mandla Mndebele, Lukhanyo Moyake, Omri Hadari, Siphamandla Yakupa, Elizabeth Frandsen

From left: Mandla Mndebele, Lukhanyo Moyake, Omri Hadari, Siphamandla Yakupa, Elizabeth Frandsen