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

Nettle and Markham Mendelssohn Shostakovich Omri Hadari CTPO #ConcertReview

Nettle and Markham Mendelssohn Shostakovich Omri Hadari CTPO #ConcertReview

Reviewed by Andy Wilding

Conductor: Omri Hadari
Soloist: Nettle and Markham
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall Thursday 10 November 2016


Mendelssohn Ruy Blas Overture, op. 95
Mendelssohn Double Piano Concerto in E
Shostakovich Symphony no. 5 in D minor, op.47

This concert honored Maestro David Tidboald, congratulating him on his 90th birthday. Tidboald’s contribution to the industry in terms of infrastructure is unparalleled. He established and conducted the KZN Philharmonic and the CAPAB and NAPAC orchestras. He also founded two major youth music festivals that provide vital performing experience to young instrumentalists, and prepares them for orchestra playing. With celebrations for Ruth Allen’s 90th the previous week at the Gala Concert (and again the following week on the 17th, which was her actual birthday) members of the city’s classical musical community experienced a trans-cultural custom as old as stone: honoring its elders. Our modern lives are so unrecognizable from their roots in pre-industrialised, pre-nuclear, tribal, socialist civilisation, that moments like these of gratitude for our tribal elders are strangely reassuring: In the throes of global madness, we are maintaining our humanity.

The overture revealed Hadari’s clear time-keeping and demanding expectation from the CTPO to play at the standard of the best orchestras in the world, to which his conducting style is accustomed. The result was a virtuosic performance with exceptional work from the strings. His outstanding control of dynamics was immediately discernible, always keeping us on our toes, and always assuring enough potential energy for climaxes to explode wonderfully.

Nettle and Markham, Omri Hadari, CTPO, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Andy Wilding #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra #CTPO #ConcertReview #ClassicalConcertReview

Nettle and Markham one second after completing the Mendelssohn double concerto in E, with Omri Hadari and the CTPO

The concerto (MWV 5) performed by Nettle and Markham has a tremendous history, beautifully told by David Nettle in the program. Mendelssohn composed it in 1823 aged 14, but revised it later on. The concerto remained in a state of flux until his early death and was not published, hence it does not have an opus number, but a Mendelssohn-Werkverzeichnis number or MWV, German for Mendelssohn Work Index. The MWV was established because the composer did not keep up with his admin – He cataloged only 72 works with opus numbers, and then died, leaving 121 works to be added posthumously. Several versions of the concerto exist, in various states of development, and in all the confusion Nettle and Markham found it best to create their own edition, favoring the original 1823 version.

Nettle and Markham, Omri Hadari, CTPO, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Andy Wilding #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra #CTPO #ConcertReview #ClassicalConcertReview

Nettle and Markham with Omri Hadari, Mendelssohn double concerto in E

Their edition is scintillating, playful, and wise – all our favorite reasons to listen to Mendelssohn. As entertaining to see as it was to hear, watching the runs and witty exchanges was simply delightful. Nettle and Markham are extremely well matched, sharing a flawless technique and shapely sense of phrase. Repetitions are never the same, but explore a different interpretation of line, changing the meaning of the sentence even though the words are the same. The exciting acellerando into the coda of the first movement had everyone on the edge of their seats. The CTPO was outstanding – lively soft lyrical violins and a horn entry in the Adagio that was dolce de leche.

Shostakovich 5th is a treat for the romantic music lover, an explicit emotional expression of sarcastic submission and yearning for freedom under tyrannical rule. Hadari’s dynamism is ideally suited to such dramatic works as this. Many people experience great romantic works as a journey in the imagination, where the music tells the story. Hadari’s mastery articulates the subtleties of his interpretation, like the terrifying power of Stalinist Russia: a dread march that develops a splinter motive of resistance and hope from the trumpets. This leads to a cacophonic anticlimax, like the momentary appearance of the cold sun on a freezing Siberian evening. After the trumpets had stated their protest, Hadari’s Stalin marched on without so much as blinking. Political propaganda swallowed that trumpet’s protest, as if it had never happened.

Omri Hadari, Patrick Goodwin, CTPO, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Andy Wilding #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra #CTPO #ConcertReview #ClassicalConcertReview

Omri Hadari congratulating concertmaster Patrick Goodwin and the CTPO after the Shostakovich 5th symphony

The show stealer for me was concertmaster Patrick Goodwin’s awkwardly pretty solo in the midst of a macabre, military ball, a paradox beautifully illustrated by Hadari’s skill. The CTPO painted these musical pictures in world class standards. String technique was astounding, annunciating a perfectly synchronous pianonissimo pizzicato, with accellerando! Stunning ensemble playing from winds, bassoons expertly handing the oddly high register. Beautiful solos by Gabriele von Durckheim flute, Daniel Prozesky clarinet, and Caroline Prozesky horne. As the first movement drew to a close, the melody seamlessly passed from flute (von Durckheim) to picolo (Bridget Wilson) to violin (Patrick Goodwin) – an outstanding moment of magic.

Omri Hadari, CTPO, Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Andy Wilding #CapeTownPhilharmonicOrchestra #CTPO #ConcertReview #ClassicalConcertReview

Standing ovation for Hadari and the CTPO after the Shostakovich 5th symphony

Hadari’s demands on the orchestra are relentless, continuously sculpting the balance and tempo, and insisting on absolute precision. The results that he produces are spectacular and remind us why we attend classical concerts. Pressure makes diamonds – If sound is anything to go by, playing under Hadari is extremely good for the CTPO!

David Nettle, Richard Markham, Louis Heyneman, Omri Hadari

From left: David Nettle, Richard Markham, Louis Heyneman, Omri Hadari