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: https://soundcloud.com/christo-jankowitz
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!”
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.
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!
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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
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