FOM Gala Concert 2016 Howard Shelley CTPO #ConcertReview

FOM Gala Concert 2016 Howard Shelley CTPO #ConcertReview

Reviewed by Andy Wilding

Conductor / Soloist: Howard Shelley
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall Thursday 3 November 2016

Symphony no.35 in D “Haffner”
Piano Concerto no. 18 in B-flat
Piano Concerto no. 20 in D minor

The Friends of Orchestral Music is a registered non-profit organisation that is dedicated to supporting classical orchestral music in Cape Town. The lion’s share of the funds raised are presented to the orchestra, but FOM also enables a variety of up-and-coming instrumentalists, assisting with bursaries and outreach programs.

FOM, Friends of Orchestral Music, CTPO, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

Cheque please! FOM Chairman Derek Auret presented R300,000 to CTPO Chief Executive Louis Heyneman on 24 Nov 2016

FOM fund raising events are planned throughout the year, most notably the enchanting soirées featuring local and international soloists and chamber ensembles. FOM also collects a R50 donation per person at the CTPO open dress rehearsals, usually held at the City Hall on the morning of the performance. By far the most glamorous event in the FOM calendar is the annual Gala Concert, an exciting opportunity to showcase the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra in the light of an international star, and 2016 was no exception. The CTPO gave a shining performance conducted from the piano by natural born entertainer Howard Shelley. The evening was a critically acclaimed success, graciously sponsored by Nussbaumstigting, and Naspers (who sponsored the Joshua Bell concert last year.)

Ruth Allen, Bernhard Gueller, Howard Shelley, Shirley de Kock Gueller

Ruth Allen with maestros Bernhard Gueller and Howard Shelley, and CTPO marketing executive Shirley de Kock Gueller

The 2016 Gala Concert will also be remembered as Ruth Allen’s 90th birthday present! The concert was dedicated to this rare jewel of the classical art and music community – an industry mainstay; an indomitable supporter of classical music through feast and famine. What a birthday present this must have been, to see the orchestra that she had helped return from the Isle of the Dead, thriving, fierce, and full of life.

A program that features works from one composer feels quite focussed and calming, like arriving at a holiday destination with no further plans to travel, because you are exactly where you want to be. With Shelley’s Mozart program, we were comfortably transported into the Vienna of the 1780s and allowed to wonder around, explore the society, experience the culture. The symphony was elegantly phrased and impressively accurate. The Andante, around 72 bpm, was a leisurely stroll distinct in it’s complete absence of urgency, providing plenty of space to hang ones thoughts.

Howard Shelley, CTPO, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra, #CTPO, #ConcertReview, #ClassicalConcertReview, Andy Wilding

Maestro Howard Shelley’s charming, entertaining, and interesting introduction to the piano concerto nr. 18 in B-flat

Maestro Shelley earned his supper a few times over, giving his audience a delightfully entertaining master class before the B-flat piano concerto. He told us to listen out for the winds, who would be playing a greater part than in any concerto before, and also rattled off an astounding array of examples on the keyboard where Mozart had used variations or derivations of the opening phrase of the 18th in other piano concerti. Thus, with his audience eating out of his hand, he rang the bonus bell: charm. It requires a skill that precious few performers have or take the time to develop: the skill of talking to the audience. There is an immediate intimacy even in a concert hall, with a performer who speaks, a kind of subconscious capcha test – Are you a robot? Seeing the humanity in the way an instrumentalist speaks is (almost always) endearing.

Lid off, Shelley got down to business, delivering amazing balance and sensitivity with the orchestra, and a cadenza of astonishing accuracy. Wondering far from the tour bus, I came to the conclusion that Mozart would be enjoying Shelley’s demonstration of the piano forte immensely, and probably envying it over his baroquey harpsichord at home. Shelley’s Andante was as dramatic as he promised it would be, having explained in his short introduction that Mozart was fond of infusing his second movements with operatic lyricism.

Howard Shelley, CTPO, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra, #CTPO, #ConcertReview, #ClassicalConcertReview, Andy Wilding

Another of maestro Howard Shelley’s charming, entertaining, and interesting introductions for piano concerto nr. 21 in D minor

After interval we were rewarded with another of Shelley’s wonderful introductions, which served not only to remind us to look out for Beethoven’s cadenza in the first movement and Hummel’s in the third, but also that FOM Gala Concerts offer something special to the music lover. There is a sense of witnessing history in the making, to be in the audience of an icon performing on the City Hall stage. And what a pleasure to host a star so comfortable in his world that he speaks piano as his home language, whether illustrating a quick example or playing entire works from his iPad.

His D minor was sublime in its clarity, precision, and serenity. Not uncommonly a fan of exciting tempi, I enjoyed the Romanza’s languid first subject, a shade lazier than the Haffner Andante, and the dreaminess contrasted well with the fiery passion of the second subject. Beautiful ensemble playing from the winds.

Howard Shelley, CTPO, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra, #CTPO, #ConcertReview, #ClassicalConcertReview, Andy Wilding

Howard Shelley’s concert will have very special place in the CTPO hall of fame.


Bernhard Gueller, Howard Shelley

Maestros Bernhard Gueller and Howard Shelley having a word after the concert, dedicated to Ruth Allen (in pink)

Rachel Lee Priday, CTPO & Daniel Boico – Ravel Prokofiev Rachmaninov #ConcertReview

Rachel Lee Priday, CTPO & Daniel Boico – Ravel Prokofiev Rachmaninov #ConcertReview

Reviewed by Andy Wilding

Conductor: Daniel Boico
Soloist: Rachel Lee Priday
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall Thursday 30 June 2016

Thousands of years from now, archaeologists will say that the internet is one of the most important and transformative tools in the history of human development. Cape Town is a small city, but it is still relatively easy to be disconnected and believe that there is no money here, and that all the great events in classical music happen overseas. Just the other day I sat next to someone at a concert who had not heard of Fine Music Radio! But that is all changing at fibre-optic speed. Frequent events like the 35th Belvedere Singing Competition are constant reminders to Capetonians that our orchestra and facilities are a beacon on the map of Africa, a stunning destination for classical musicians and competitions. The internet is our ticket to being included in the rich explosion of classical events that seems to be growing in our Mother City. And what would happen if our City Hall and Baxter concerts were video broadcast onto a website for all the world to see, like the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall?

Are we ready to go global?

Ravel – Alborada del Gracioso
We have a world-class orchestra, I hear it all the time from people who travel. Last Thursday the CTPO was on top form and impeccably synchronised with their percussion section. We have world-class conductors, Daniel Boico has worked closely with Barenboim, Boulez, and Mehta. His Ravel was scintillating, conveying the timeless allure of a Mediterranean village. Approximately translating as “Morning song of the Jester”, it is an orchestral show-piece with plenty of mystery and passion befitting the genre. The bassoon of Simon Ball serenaded over the atmospheric pianissimo orchestra that occasionally exploded in surprising and spectacular colour.


Rachel Lee Priday, Daniel Boico, Simon Ball, Sergie Burdukov, Gabriele von Dürckheim, Daniel Prozesky, Brandon Phillips, Hamman Schoonwinkel, Patrick Goodwin, Olga Burdukova, Andy Wilding, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra, #CTPO, #ConcertReview, #ClassicalConcertReview

Rachel Lee Priday with the CTPO for Prokofiev Violin Concerto No.1 conducted by Daniel Boico

Prokofiev – Violin Concerto No.1
Priday is an alluring, enigmatic performer, delighting in the contrasts of ethereal serenity and electrifying volcanism. Her interpretation of the concerto was an exploration of these ideas, opening on a single glistening gossamer thread that became darker, thicker, and more menacing. Accentuating the harmonic angst of the second subject and its edgy awkwardness, she revealed the volcano – a lava-flow of shredding scales and explosive pizzicato. She’s a live wire! … And only too easily, it’s all dreamy back-lit misty dew drops again. There’s a kind of amnesia following the storm, an almost post-apocalyptic surrealism that quite aptly describes human nature. We want to forget – we want to go back to the blissful dream again.


Daniel Boico, Simon Ball, Sergie Burdukov, Gabriele von Dürckheim, Daniel Prozesky, Brandon Phillips, Hamman Schoonwinkel, Patrick Goodwin, Olga Burdukova, Andy Wilding, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra, #CTPO, #ConcertReview, #ClassicalConcertReview

The CTPO with Daniel Boico after Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances

Rachmaninov – Symphonic Dances
We really do have a phenomenal orchestra. I know they’re just doing their jobs, but performing as a job means doing the job perfectly. Double-basses took their tricky fast wide reaches in their stride, the wind solos were breathtaking by Sergie Burdukov, Gabriele von Dürckheim, Daniel Prozesky and Brandon Phillips. And the award for #ShowStealer goes to: Hamman Schoonwinkel for his melancholy, lyrical, totally Rachmaninovian saxophone solo!

The Scherzo was bliss and rapture. This macabre, deeply beautiful waltz has three of my favourite things: 1) Ominously muted brass; 2) a concertmaster solo; (sublime, Patrick Goodwin) and 3) Olga Burdukova’s cor anglais.

Boico’s conducting is bold and sumptuously romantic. Never afraid to pause slightly or take his time describing a particularly beautiful phrase, his tempi are organic and expressive. His communication with the CTPO is excellent: they understand each other well. This could only be true because in many parts of the symphonic work, the timing is off beat and complex, and last Thursday the CTPO handled the corners like a Ferrari – mastering a finicky timing chicane into the final accelerando and coda – what an amazing ride!


Louis Heyneman, Rachel Lee Priday, Daniel Boico

Louis Heyneman, Rachel Lee Priday, Daniel Boico



Where ever you are in the world, you can watch the
35th International Hans Gabor Belvedere Singing Competition FINALS



François du Toit, Daniel Boico – Jankowitz, Schumann, Saint-Saëns #ConcertReview

François du Toit, Daniel Boico – Jankowitz, Schumann, Saint-Saëns #ConcertReview

Reviewed by Andy Wilding

Conductor: Daniel Boico
Soloist: François du Toit
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall Thursday 23 June 2016

Jankowitz – Revelation
From the misty Mahleresque cor anglais opening and throughout the work, it was clear that Christo Jankowitz has the stuff of a serious symphonic composer. “Revelation” reveals a talent for communicating sophisticated musical ideas that develop along a sensible line of progression. Certainly a composer requires an ability for melody-writing, but the skill of developing musical material is a step closer to genius. Many of the greatest musical works are based on a simple melodic idea, but achieve their greatness in how those ideas are ramified and explored. After hearing this work for the first time I was tantalised – I would like to hear a whole symphony by this composer. I enjoyed the orchestration, particularly the use of piano to compliment percussion. “Revelation” moves through extremely dramatic chaos to find peace, the basis of a true existentially questioning Romantic.

Christo Jankowitz has a SoundCloud:

After writing these notes I was pleased to see that Maestro Peter Klatzow had a similar ear for the work: “Hints of Mahler – nothing wrong with that!”


Christo Jankowitz Revelation, Daniel Boico, CTPO, #ConcertReview

Christo Jankowitz after the performance of “Revelation” by Daniel Boico and the CTPO

Schumann – Piano Concerto
I suppose one of the perks of being a world-class pianist must be the ability to reach inside the pocket of ones jacket and pull out the Schumann concerto! Maestro du Toit stepped up at short notice and gave one of the most profound performances I have ever heard or played on FMR. There is a perfectly good reason why he is everyone’s favourite: he plays beautifully. Taking his time, and with humility, he shows us the lyrical narrative of every line. He recreates the excitement and drama of the concerto with dynamic contrasts in his phrases, and avoids the ego trap of blinding speed and technical display.

To use baroque terminology, du Toit’s lyrical style is French, where he conveys compassion and empathy with the tasteful application of uneven, or inégalité phrasing. Equally comfortable conveying the dogma or forcefulness of fate, he turns to the German style of strict unyielding timing. And there is no load shedding when he needs power! His cadenza picked up an electrifying pace, flying clearly above the full orchestra. I did not need air or food during this cadenza. I needed nothing more than the continuation of the story.

Being a world-class conductor must be similar to being a world-class pianist – Maestro Boico pulled an equally polished performance from his pocket, giving the impression of weeks of rehearsals with the CTPO (a world-class orchestra). He followed du Toit’s tempo and nuance in the piano sections, accelerating slightly for the orchestra’s responses. This gave the concerto an enthusiasm and movement to the orchestra that offset the philosophical piano. The balance and accuracy were exquisite – in the exposition the double basses and du Toit’s left hand were one instrument. The timing in the third movement is extremely advanced. There are passages where “1” seems to disappear and appear again randomly for a few pages: the CTPO maintained astonishing balance and landed perfectly every time. Exemplary solos by Daniel Prozesky clarinet and Sergei Burdukov oboe.


François du Toit, Daniel Boico, CTPO #ConcertReview

François du Toit after the Schumann piano concerto with Daniel Boico and the CTPO

Saint-Saëns – symphony no. 3 “Organ”
What an extraordinary work! Boico’s first movement bristled with restless anticipation. There is an unmistakable presence that one feels in the City Hall when the organ’s lights are on – ITS ALIVE! Continuing the profundity of the Schumann concerto, it was as if we waited for an inevitable Close Encounter of the Third Kind. Eventually and benignly, the organ spoke its message to us in gorgeous bassey rumbles that no doubt surprised one or two passing whales in Table Bay. Although rather desperately in need of servicing and tuning, it is never the less the most spectacular instrument that many of us have ever seen or heard. The sound, physical vibration, and transcendental genius of the composer, synergise and create an experience that is quite out of this world. The concert hall became a space ship exploring the outer reaches of the galaxy, with conductor Boico captaining from the bridge, and organist Erik Dippenaar piloting from the helm.

In a demonstration of organic dexterity, Dippenaar played the Bach A-major mass the previous evening, on perhaps the smallest organ in Cape Town, and this Saint-Saëns symphony the following evening, on the Leviathan. He seemed equally comfortable on either one: with clean runs and intelligent phrases. Boico’s conducting style is precise and clear, articulately communicating the levels for sections to create the balance he wants. The CTPO delivered this monumental work with its virtuosic tutti sections amazingly, mastering the often syncopated and tricky timing as well as they did in the Schumann concerto. Boico’s accelerando into the close had hearts racing, sternums vibrating, and minds boggling – This was one to remember!


Daniel Boico, CTPO, Erik Dippenaar

Daniel Boico and the CTPO after the Saint-Saëns Symphony no.3 with Erik Dippenaar Organ


Christo Jankowitz, Louis Heyneman, Erik Dippenaar, François du Toit, Daniel Boico

After party, from left: Christo Jankowitz, Louis Heyneman, Erik Dippenaar, François du Toit, Daniel Boico

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Next week the CTPO returns to the City Hall with Daniel Boico and SENSATIONAL soloist Rachel Lee Priday – booking now open!

Ravel – Alborade del gracioso
Prokofiev – Violin Concerto no 1
Rachmaninov – Symphonic Dances


OPENING 2 JULY 2016 6:00PM

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