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: 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!”

.

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

More pictures on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andy.wilding.92

.

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

BOOK NOW AT COMPUTICKET OR ARTSCAPE DIAL-A-SEAT: 021 421 7695


OPENING 2 JULY 2016 6:00PM

classical music, live streaming, video broadcastShould Cape Town’s classical music have more international exposure?

Now testing: a new website based on the Berlin Philharmonic’s Digital Concert Hall, streaming the 35th International Belvedere Singing Competition on CapeTownConcertHall.com

Would like your favourite concerts, singers, and instrumentalists to be filmed and broadcast around the world?
YOU CAN HELP!

Log on to CapeTownConcertHall.com and click GET NOTIFIED
or check out the Facebook Event Page and click “Interested”
https://www.facebook.com/events/1122511657787514/

Please help us promote classical music in Cape Town by Sharing posts about CapeTownConcertHall.com with other music lovers!

Cape Town Concert Hall, Belvedere Singing Competition, classical music, live streaming, video broadcast

Advertisements
François Du Toit, Victor Yampolsky – Beethoven Piano Concerto Cycle Part 1

François Du Toit, Victor Yampolsky – Beethoven Piano Concerto Cycle Part 1

Reviewed by Andy Wilding

Conductor: Victor Yampolsky
Soloist: François Du Toit
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall, Wednesday 24 February 2016

We are extremely fortunate to have amongst our academia, performer and Professor of Piano François Du Toit. He is an amazing artist – a master of all the mesmerism and mystery that may be enticed from his instrument. These two concerts were to celebrate his birthday, his fee generously sponsored by Le Lude of Franschhoek (cellar, restaurant, and guest villa). This is exactly the patronage that our beloved classical music needs in order to thrive, and the result was an unparalleled opportunity for the Cape Town audience to attend the most important piano concerto cycle in history.

For the casual music lover, it was a beautiful journey through the development of Beethoven’s composing style, which can also be seen as the development of Romanticism in music. For the academics it was a two-day field trip. The inspiration of many later works can be heard in this concerto cycle – in the cadenza of the second concerto the dotted rhythm of the Charleston is perceptible – (Beethoven later used this rhythm in the second movement of his piano sonata Op 111.) and in the Rondo of the fourth concerto we can hear the idea for the opening chords of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No 1.

Attending this cycle, one has the time to notice the little things about Beethoven’s composing style that made him different from his “Classical” peers. The Rondo of the first concerto for example, features a folk melody – an idea that later became the nationalist spirit of many great romantic composers. Of all the recent concerts in the City Hall that should be broadcast to outer space to let the aliens know about Earth Human music, these two concerts are my choice.

François Du Toit, Victor Yampolsky, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

Final downbeat of Piano Conerto No. 5

As the First Piano Concerto opened with sensitive winds, warm double basses and celli, and a comfortable crescendo into the first subject, there was a strong cent of Mozart, and a fascination with the inevitable development of passion and romance, like the knocking of fate. Conductor Yampolsky brilliantly managed the orchestra’s frequent tricky entries on the fourth beat, expertly balanced with Du Toit’s clean technique and beautiful dynamics. The cadenza was as profound in it’s moments of breathtaking suspense as it was technically radiant, phrasing and interpretation making perfect sense throughout.

For me, the Adagio was the highlight of the Second Piano Concerto. There was a slight sense of hedonism in being allowed to float rather decadently through the greatest composer’s sweetest dreams. I had the feeling of drifting in a most agreeable experience that I knew would not be over any time soon.

Progressively, the concerti become more virtuosic and challenging for the orchestra, and by the Fourth Piano Concerto, parts are frequently scored in semiquavers for whole sections. Celli and double basses performed outstandingly on such occasions, running and leaping synchronously. The violas had a most beautiful moment – Beethoven’s sonorous mezzos playing just a few bars in two parts – a show stealer. Yampolsky kept respectable tempi and a very tidy ship, particularly with the off-beat quavers echoing the piano in the third movement. Du Toit demonstrated stunning control, plucking melodies from complicated patterns. His pedal technique is incredible – like the focus on a camera, he lifts the sustain and refocuses during trills and runs, giving his performance a polish that I have rarely heard before. He played the entire concert from memory. The audience would not let him leave the stage, they were noisier and happier than I’ve heard them for a very long time.

Cape Town is indeed very fortunate to have a resident performer and Professor such as François Du Toit.

Louis Heneman, François Du Toit

Louis Heneman and François Du Toit after the concert

 

Read Part 2 of François Du Toit’s Beethoven Piano Concerto Cycle here.

François Du Toit, Victor Yampolsky – Beethoven Piano Concerto Cycle Part 2

François Du Toit, Victor Yampolsky – Beethoven Piano Concerto Cycle Part 2

Reviewed by Andy Wilding

Conductor: Victor Yampolsky
Soloist: François Du Toit
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall, Thursday 25 February 2016

Prometheus
The second half of François Du Toit’s birthday party began with a synchronous dominant seventh, leading into a beautiful theme from Beethoven’s immortal beloved winds. Conductor Yampolsky’s perfectionism, precise communication, and exciting interpretation secured this overture as another shining example of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra’s high calibre. The second subject in the violins was crisp and refreshing like crunchy lettuce. All the string parts are technically demanding, and were well performed to the virtuosic standard of the composer.

Victor Yampolsky, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

Victor Yampolsky and the CTPO after performing the Prometheus Overture

Throughout the stunning opening movement of the Third Piano Concerto I could not take my eyes off the keys, watching clean runs, accentuated phrase endings, and passionate legato melodies. The cadenza suspended reason – the trills seemed automated, like the sorcerers apprentice commanding the broom. Yampolsky brought the orchestra into synchronous entries like a single breathing being, voicing a beautiful fugue in the 3rd movement between celli, violas, violins, and double basses and winds, each part sounding as one, a sublime quartet.

The Fifth Piano Concerto commenced in all the regalia and sweeping majesty of it’s epithet Emperor. Du Toit reigned absolute, with such precision of emotive dynamics, like pristine diamonds dropping from the piano. The audience was free to wonder how Beethoven composed this work after becoming completely deaf. Were we the first audience to wonder if perhaps he was able to “hear” better without the distractions of earthly sound? Perhaps only because of his loss of hearing, was he able to engage in the most profound conversations with the cosmos, and take down the dictation of the music he was hearing in that state of consciousness. Certainly, his lofty first movement theme in the high register of the piano had the audience suspended as if by threads from Heaven. Do we hear in Beethoven’s deafness, the Music of the Spheres?

The adagio was exquisite – each note a drop of liquid gold, sustained by stunning control from the horns, holding that mystical space between the 2nd and 3rd movement – and what a finale! A world-class dialogue between piano and orchestra, amazingly balanced. One of the notes I made during the performance read: “How can one instrument match so many? Beethoven!” Clearly I was a little over-excited, but it wasnt just me – an international swallow I spoke to excitedly told me that he would call it “The Event of the Season”.

François Du Toit, Victor Yampolsky, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

During François Du Toit’s standing ovation, the CTPO struck up “Happy Birthday”, joined by the audience

 

Next Thursday the CTPO returns with conductor Omri Hadari for the Jewish Community Gala:

Bernstein – Candide Overture

Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue

Rachmaninov – Symphony no. 2

BOOK NOW AT COMPUTICKET OR ARTSCAPE DIAL-A-SEAT: 021 421 7695

3 Pianos! Cape Town Concert Series #ConcertReview – Albie van Schalkwyk, François du Toit, Franklin Larey

3 Pianos! Cape Town Concert Series #ConcertReview – Albie van Schalkwyk, François du Toit, Franklin Larey

Reviewed by Andrew Wilding

Baxter Concert Hall, Saturday 22 August 2015

Louise Howlett Cape Town Concert Series

Cape Town Concert Series manager Louise Howlett introducing 3 Pianos!

Coming up with new ways to perform music that is usually at least a hundred years old, is perhaps the biggest challenge for modern classical musicians. On one hand is sheer performing brilliance, but although impressive, accelerating the tempo to show off technique often loses the essence of the work – many pianists are accused of “machine-gun fire” and wrecking Rachmaninov’s 2nd or 3rd piano concertos. On the other hand is the interpretation of the work in a new or creative way, and this carries an even heavier risk of losing the plot entirely and venturing into the realm of the ridiculous – giant-head costumes for Wagner’s Ring, pregnant fairies for Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet with guns and car chases, etc. Creating a new performance concept is an admirable skill, and it should be acknowledged that last Saturday’s Cape Town Concert Series managed by Louise Howlett, struck gold. For the first time ever in Cape Town, three of our grandest pianos shared the stage with three of our most accomplished pianists, giving the evening a “Three Tenors” ambiance, were the audience is pleasantly overwhelmed by the feeling of being in the presence of stars. Judging by the audience high in the interval and after the concert, I hope to see a repeat of Albie van Schalkwyk’s memorable arrangements for three pianos very soon.

.

Albie van Schalkwyk, François du Toit, Franklin Larey

Bernstein arr. A van Schalkwyk – Overture to “Candide”, van Schalkwyk, du Toit, Larey
What a way to open! With a bang, we were swept into the show by all three pianists in a perfectly synchronised performance that established a central theme of the concert: excitement! And what a rich, wonderful sound from these three pianos in the equally shared virtuosity of van Schalkwyk’s score. There were no accompanists, just well-distributed bursts from each in turn, that accelerated and embellished the romantic fantasy of Bernstein’s work.

Milhaud – Scaramouche, van Schalkwyk, Larey (for two pianos)
Continuing the upbeat spirit of fun, at times becoming a roller-coaster, was the constant dialogue between the voices. I was reminded of the gorgeousness of this instrument, and how, for someone who loves the piano, this concert was a festival of familiar works and lush washes of sound.

.

Albie van Schalkwyk, François du Toit, Franklin Larey

Prokofiev arr. A van Schalkwyk – Symphony nr. 1 “Classical” van Schalkwyk, du Toit, Larey
Adding to an excitement was the “mad hatter tea party” approach – the performers changed places for each work on the program so that they took turns facing the audience (while at the same time identifying the piano on the right as having the brightest sound.) It was as if three magicians were weaving this symphony together. I was only later pleased to see that the final work in the concert was Dukas’ Sorcerers Apprentice! Becoming accustomed to the high energy of the concert, I developed a deeper appreciation for van Schalkwyk’s incredible arrangements, particularly in this work. The wonderful relaying forte voices somehow seemed very natural on three pianos, almost as if Prokofiev invited this exact exploration of his symphony. I felt that as a pianist, Prokofiev would have delighted in this arrangement very much. In fact I enjoyed this part of the program so much that I played the symphony on FMR the next day, but even in the orchestration one has less of the relay effect where another piano takes over the melody or a repeat of a theme, using the different colours and brightness of each piano to create modulations that are different in an orchestra. Not surprisingly, Deon Irish put it rather well in a conversation during the interval using a photography metaphor, where the three-piano arrangement is like black and white, and the orchestration is like colour. In a black and white photograph we can often notice detail in the subject, that we could have missed in the colour version, being distracted by all the prettiness.

.

Albie van Schalkwyk

Albie van Schalkwyk introducing his 3 piano arrangement of Prokofiev symphony nr 1

Poulenc – Two Pieces for Two Pianos, du Toit, Larey
In the program notes, Van Schalkwyk quoted from Poulenc’s instructions to the pianists: to play “as if improvising it, a cigar in your mouth, and a glass of cognac on the piano… you can never use too much pedal.” Although this refers to the first of the two pieces, these deliciously scrumptious, care-free works lent a languid and loungey atmosphere to the evening, provided a relaxing oasis with all the flavour of the composer’s time.

.

Franklin Larey and François du Toit

Franklin Larey and François du Toit about to perform Poulenc, Two Pieces for Two Pianos

Ravel arr. A van Schalkwyk – Rapsodie Espagnole, van Schalkwyk, du Toit, Larey
Hearing the work of another composer-pianist arranged in this way renewed for me the feeling of hearing the original form. Such is the beauty of the instrument, as far as piano-lovers are concerned, that many are of the opinion that some works are better left in their original piano version, like Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. As with the Prokofiev symphony, hearing this arrangement I wondered – if the spirit of these great composers could somehow hear us and attend our performances, what would they think? I, for one, see no risk here! I think Ravel would have loved it! The three-piano arrangement enters a higher orbit when exploring impressionism and the creation of colour using sound – the piano invites such rich deep fullness in its gloved percussive suspending strings – why not have three?

Bennett arr. A van Schalkwyk – Four Piece Suite, van Schalkwyk, du Toit
Being greeted after the interval by samba, blues, ragtime, and then hard rock, cued my recurring realisation that this concert is amazing! It’s hard-as-nails serious technique, and at the same time fun for the whole family, with the ragtime / waltz conjuring images of Scot Joplin jamming with Tchaikovsky – I wanted to go again before the ride had finished!

.

Albie van Schalkwyk, François du Toit, Franklin Larey

Dukas arr. A van Schalkwyk – The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, van Schalkwyk, du Toit, Larey
What an awe-inspiring experience we witnessed that night. Hardly believing it, we watched breathless as Goethe’s story unravelled deeper and deeper into complexity and chaos. In a somewhat terrifying comedy of errors, the apprentice loses control of a spell that he casts, with pandemonium resulting. This surely must be one of the most juicy challenges for any conductor – to create the appearance of mayhem with out actually losing control, and the three magicians I saw earlier playing the Prokofiev symphony, each a conductor of his own piano, immersed themselves in this challenge to serve an incredible, passionate, accurate, ground-shaking performance with all the mastery of the sorcerer in the story they were relating. Van Schalkwyk’s arrangement was stunningly virtuosic for the three pianist / magicians, an absolute delight to hear – a truly magnificent feat!

.

François du Toit

François du Toit introducing the encore: Chabrier, España

Encore: Chabrier arr. A van Schalkwyk – España, van Schalkwyk, du Toit, Larey
Perfectly placed, this exotic favourite summed up and celebrated the theme of the concert – excitement! I like encores that feel like after-parties, as if the performers are just letting off steam. And so it seemed, easy enough in the beginning, although some way into this work it became apparent to me that there is far more to this Chabrier pop song than meets the ear. The high contrast black and white of the three pianos revealed brilliant technical skills and hidden melodies that I had completely missed in all the times I have heard this work. So in many ways, the encore was a microcosm of the macrocosm, rather nicely and holographically summing up the entire concert.

Concert Review: Schubert, Beethoven – Friends of Orchestral Music Soirée

Concert Review: Schubert, Beethoven – Friends of Orchestral Music Soirée

Reviewed by Andrew Wilding

Magdalene Minnaar, Maria Tien-Du Toit, Francois du Toit, Patrick Goodwin, Paula Gabriel, Peter Martens, Roxane Steffen

Old Mutual House, Sunday 8 March 2015

Other works included Beethoven's "Appassionata" and Schubert's "Trout" Quintet, with Patrick Goodwin, Paula Gabriel, Peter Martens, and Roxane Steffen

Shepherd on the Rock from left: Francois du Toit, Magdalene Minnaar, Maria Tien-Du Toit

.

Schubert – Shepherd on the Rock
Magdalene Minnaar (soprano), Maria Tien-Du Toit (clarinet), Francois du Toit (piano)
The alluring clarinet and piano opening was magical, instantly transcending thought, warmly welcoming one’s imagination, the perfect aperitif. Magdalene Minnaar’s soprano was exquisite, introducing the most beautiful golden thread into the sound. She has stunning dynamic range in her phrasing and amazing control at ppp. The Lied was composed after a request from a friend of Schubert who wanted a showpiece that would demonstrate the emotional range of her voice, but Schubert’s clarinet part is equally impressive. The trio was a jewel – a duet between two of our finest performers masterfully supported by one of our finest pianists.
.

Beethoven – piano sonata No.23 in F minor (“Appassionata”)
Francois du Toit (piano)
This work surely ranks among the most challenging in the repertoire. Both technically and emotionally highly demanding, it must be a something like summiting Mt. Everest: never easy, no matter how many times you do it! With Beethovenian polarities of amiable reason and dogmatic fatality, du Toit climbed this pinnacle of sonatas tenaciously and with good pedal control, allowing his sound to accumulate and then suddenly disperse like a vanishing cloud. He demonstrated an incredible presence of mind which can only be attributed to a lifetime of dedication to performing professionally. His second movement was sublime, and the third embodied all the tension and agitation of a 34-year-old Beethoven that had us glued to our seats.

.

Other works included Beethoven's "Appassionata" and Schubert's "Shepherd on the Rock, with Magdalene Minnaar, Maria Tien-Du Toit, and Francois du Toit

Trout Quintet from left: Patrick Goodwin, page turner, Francois du Toit, Paula Gabriel, Peter Martens, Roxane Steffen

.

Schubert – Piano Quintet in A Major (“The Trout”)
Francois du Toit (piano), Patrick Goodwin (violin), Paula Gabriel (viola), Peter Martens (cello), Roxane Steffen (double bass)
I enjoyed the sumptuous rich sound of the room – the acoustics held the bass better than larger venues while leaving the higher frequencies unchanged, so that one heard very much more of the sound than usual. This was especially noticeable in the fourth movement, where the theme and variations on Schubert’s Lied “Die Forelle” gives each instrumentalist a chance to shine. I was reminded of the genius of the composer, uniquely placing a double bass in his piano quintet, where a second violin is the norm, and this is ingenious because it frees up the cello to perform delicious singing melodies in its tenor register. We really are spoilt by the talent in Cape Town’s musicians! The quintet was seamlessly synchronous, such a gorgeous lullaby in the second movement, an exceptional performance!

.

Many of the performers from last week’s soirée are involved in the Stellenbosch Woordfees, details here: http://www.sun.ac.za/english/woordfees/components/klassiek