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

STREAMING LIVE ON THE INTERNET
SATURDAY 2 JULY AT 6:00pm (GMT+2)

CATCH THE FREE VIDEO BROADCAST HERE: http://www.capetownconcerthall.com/

Advertisements
Bryan Wallick Arjan Tien – Britten Prokofiev Mendelssohn #CTPO #ConcertReview

Bryan Wallick Arjan Tien – Britten Prokofiev Mendelssohn #CTPO #ConcertReview

Reviewed by Andy Wilding

Conductor: Arjan Tien
Soloist: Bryan Wallick
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall Thursday 19 May 2016

Britten – Passacaglia from Peter Grimes
Tien’s second performance with the CTPO this season reaffirmed his style as easy to follow with clear tempo. At times his movements are minimal, which is a great compliment to the orchestra as it implies that they listen to each other for timing. This minimalism also frees up the conductor to express the nuances and dynamics of his interpretation, to which the CTPO were highly responsive. A dark Victorian scene emerged, featuring Paula Gabriel’s sonorous melancholy viola, and haunting celeste by Joanna Majksner-Pinska, peppered with precise percussion.

.

Bryan Wallick, #CTPO, Arjan Tien, Andy Wilding

Bryan Wallick with the CTPO and Arjan Tien after the Prokofiev Piano Concerto no.2

Prokofiev – Piano Concerto no.2
There is an understated kind of charm about this concerto. Beginning rather ordinarily, the work is embalmed with Prokovief’s unmistakable mystical logic. We find ourselves in the most unexpected places as if by magic, and somehow arrive back in the tonic. Wallick’s interpretation of this musical sorcery was Renoiresque – a hazy impression that on closer inspection reveals articulate precision. His playing was relaxed, contemplative, and very clean, portraying a healthy blend of confidence and intuitive accuracy. His fingers have a way of finding the right notes. As enchanting as the first movement is, the cadenza does rather stand out as the reason why any fiery pianist would perform the work. Growing in layers, the developments on the first subject become progressively intense, each new layer seeming to be the ultimate hight of extremism, only to reveal another even higher pinnacle. Time suspended as Wallick’s left hand plucked melody out from between the dangerous moving parts of his right hand arpeggios. With increasing conviction, it dawned on the audience that we were in the presence of a remarkable pianist, who plays like a Tai Chi master – organic and fluid, surging and ebbing, gathering and centering, accurate and intense.

The third movement Intermezzo was phenomenal – a magical macabre slow scary march from the CTPO, great interpretation by Maestro Tien.

.

Arjan Tien, #CTPO, Andy Wilding

Arjan Tien and the CTPO after the Mendelssohn with stereo double-basses!!

Mendelssohn – Symphony no. 3 “Scottish”
In the first half, Tien positioned the orchestra in the same way as the previous week, where the cellos and second violins swapped places so that the second violins were on his right. The double basses were placed on his left, behind the first violins. This of course changes the stereo effect completely and I enjoyed this very much, since the violin parts are panned left and right. Having the double-basses on the left, moves the bass into stereo, as opposed to being panned right. After interval, however, the four double-basses were balanced two on each side, as there is no bass brass in the symphony. Talking to two of the double-bassists afterwards confirmed my suspicion, that separating the section would present a challenge for them to stay together, but their timing in the performance was unaffected. The stereo effect was glorious – surround-sound double-bass!

Some would deny much of a difference to the sound on the grounds that, in a concert hall such as this, the sound from the stage bounces off all the surfaces, and by the time it gets to our ears, it’s all mashed up. It certainly is true that sound is shaped by the room, and reaches our ears from many different directions. Was there really any difference? Was my visual perception influencing my auditory perception? From my seat in the back row of the balcony, I conducted an experimented. I closed my eyes and listened, I heard violins playing on my left, opened my eyes and saw the first violins playing, and the second violins resting. The stereo effect is amazing. In the adagio, Mendelssohn’s theme was sublimely bowed by first violins on the left, with pizzicato accompaniment by seconds on the right, like a panorama photograph. Exceptional solos by Daniel Prozesky clarinet and Simon Ball bassoon.

The CTPO returns next season – Winter is coming.

Maestros Bernhard Gueller and Peter Martens

Shaun Crawford Overture
Dvořák Cello Concerto
Tchaikovsky Symphony no. 5.

Crawford is UCT, hear some of his work here.

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

Concert Review: Stevens, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky – Awadagin Pratt, Yasuo Shinozaki

Concert Review: Stevens, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky – Awadagin Pratt, Yasuo Shinozaki

Reviewed by Andrew Wilding

Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall, Thursday 4 June 2015

 

Laura Stevens Long Walk première, Beethoven Piano Concerto No.1, Tchaikovsky Symphony No.4, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Awadagin Pratt, Yasuo Shinozaki

Laura Stevens Long Walk première, Beethoven Piano Concerto No.1, Tchaikovsky Symphony No.4, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Awadagin Pratt, Yasuo Shinozaki

.

Laura Stevens, Long Walk (world première) – CTPO, Yasuo Shinozaki
It is wonderful to be reminded that the composing of beautiful classical music has not been resigned to a dusty museum, or forced into the bland concrete canal of film scoring. In my understanding, Laura Stevens deserves a place in the sky as a new star. I found her work immediately engaging, intelligently formed, well developed, and delightful on the ears. “Long Walk” (yes, Mandela’s) is a stunning tone poem in the late romantic / impressionist style, with vibrant splashes of colour, rich mixes of tonalities, warm bronzy brass, and ethereal atmospheric strings. I was pleased to read in the program notes that the Holstian quotation is an intentional reference to Jupiter as a metaphor for Madiba. In the composers’ words: “…a hint of greatness; an astronomical giant foreshadowing a giant among men.” I look forward to hearing this work again, hopefully in the near future. It is definitely well worth getting to know.

.

Awadagin Pratt and Yasuo Shinozaki with the CTPO after Beethoven Piano Concerto No.1

Awadagin Pratt and Yasuo Shinozaki with the CTPO after Beethoven Piano Concerto No.1

.

.

Beethoven, Piano Concerto No.1 – Awadagin Pratt, CTPO, Yasuo Shinozaki
Purely musically, one should perhaps not be influenced by stage presence, but how can one not? Awadagin Pratt has the X-factor of a master performer, comfortably preparing during Beethoven’s rather long orchestral introduction by silently practising a little bit, lightly running his fingers over the keys so as not to make them sound, and seeming to use the time to rehearse mentally before his entry. The emotional state of the performer on stage can often be felt by the audience, and as an audience member I found it relaxing that he was okay with us being in the same room, and just listening to him play.

.

His entry felt surprisingly modest – delivered with a soft, buoyant, clearly audible touch that presently revealed astonishing dynamics and sensitivity. His running passages were as loud as they needed to be for us to hear them. With merely the occasional rumble of thunder from his left hand, it was only in the coda of the exposition that we saw a hint of the hidden power in those fingers. This is a brilliant way to hold the audience’s attention – building our anticipation to hear his full sound. Pratt’s award-winning playing and comfort in his sound was noticeable not only in his balance with the orchestra but also in his dynamics between hands. He skilfully lifts themes out of both low and high registers of the piano, against a background of rippling arpeggios or ostinatos sustained by the other fingers – a favourite technique of Beethoven’s. His second movement was sublime. I enjoyed his innovative fingering, at one point effortlessly replacing an ascending C major scale with an artfully controlled glissando that landed perfectly on it’s destination note.

.

Listening to Awadagin Pratt, one is in the presence of a classical magician. His narrative and sensitivity is spellbinding – his fingers hardly seem to move. His tempo is fearless. Pratt has recently recorded the Brahms sonatas for piano and cello with Zuill Bailey, who performed the Dvorak concerto last year at the City Hall.

.

.

Tchaikovsky, Symphony No.4 – CTPO, Yasuo Shinozaki
From the moment that Tchaikovsky’s bombastic brass introduction blasted into the audience’s pre-symphony murmur, Shinozaki boldly proved to be an exciting conductor, full of surprises, and one who is not afraid of a riveting tempo! His communication with the orchestra seems clear, enabling succinct entries and excellent balance. Winner of the Second International Sibelius Conducting Competition in 2000, Shinozaki leads a number of orchestras and has a prolific recording career. It was another world class performance from the CTPO, with outstanding solos from Simon Ball bassoon, Oscar Kitten clarinet, and Sergei Burdukov oboe, and well done strings for the immaculate pizzicato in the third movement!

.

.

Next week Shinozaki returns to the CTPO podium:
Dvorak Hussite Overture
Tchaikovsky Pezzo Capriccioso (Anzel Gerber, cello)
Saint-Saens Africa (Ben Schoeman, piano)
Grove Bushman Prayers (Ben Schoeman, piano, and Anzel Gerber, cello)
Sibelius Symphony No.1

.

Have you done your Top 100 Survey?

Let us know what your favourite works are, and please share the survey with anyone you know who loves classical music and supports Cape Town’s classical music scene. Click this image to find out more:

Cape Town's Biggest Ever Classical Music Survey - PLEASE SHARE

Cape Town’s Biggest Ever Classical Music Survey – PLEASE SHARE

Concert Review: Borodin, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky – Oxana Yablonskaya, Dmitry Yablonsky

Concert Review: Borodin, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky – Oxana Yablonskaya, Dmitry Yablonsky

Reviewed by Andrew Wilding

Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, City Hall, Thursday 2 April 2015

The Yablonskys From Left: Oxana Yablonskaya, Dmitry Yablonsky, Janna Gandelman. Dmitry is Oxana’s son, and takes the masculine form of the family name Yablonsky. In Russian, the feminine form of the family name ads an “a” or in Oxana’s case, “aya”. Janna and Dmitry are married.

.

Borodin, In the Steppes of Central Asia – CTPO, Dmitry Yablonsky
The enchantment of the opening melody was immediate – we were transported exactly as Borodin intended, to a windy grassland of lakes, yurts, and distant snowy mountains. We were treated to world class solos from the wind section and excellent low volume control by the horns. Yablonsky conducts with an unassuming confidence that communicates well with the players. They kept a suspenseful pace that highlighted the dynamic ability of the orchestra, and held this tempo as the work transforms into the majestic coda, richly embellished by warm shiny trombones and full juicy strings. It was a most delicious hors-d’oeuvre!

.

Rachmaninov, Piano Concerto No. 1 – Oxana Yablonskaya, CTPO, Dmitry Yablonsky
An extremely technical and difficult work, this concerto was first written when Rachmaninov was 16, and then underwent a number of revisions. It contains all the ambition and imagination of the young prodigy’s developing signature style, with occasional splashes of Tchaikovsky and Grieg. The pianist plunges immediately into a virtuosic, rapid melody in octaves, and it was a genuine pleasure to watch an artist of such calibre as Yablonskaya taking the roll of the story-teller in this spectacular show piece. Beyond her jaw-dropping technique, she creates amazing dynamics within phrases that bring to life Rachmaninov’s journey through beautiful mindscapes, with sudden changes in temperature and scenery.

The cadenza was explosive – a thundering, powerful narrative told by an enchanting orator, utterly compelling – spellbinding. Yablonskaya interpreted with the charisma of one performing a solo sonata, which I find perfectly placed in this concerto as the piano is undoubtedly the hero of the story. I enjoyed her dramatic sense of timing, good volume above the full orchestra, and when needed, her fingers run like clockwork! We are very fortunate to have procured Yablonskaya for this and the next concert, Beethoven’s Triple concerto.

After much encouragement, Yablonskaya presented a Scarlatti sonata – the perfect encore. It was like relaxing with a refreshing ice tea after an exhilarating voyage.

.

Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 3 – CTPO, Dmitry Yablonsky
Conductor Yablonsky’s style is easy on the ears. His subjects and sections were sensibly phrased and well built, which highlighted the form of this remarkably influential work. His beats are clear, at the top of his arc, causing concise entries even with the full orchestra in fragmented rhythms. The symphony, 1875, contains many themes from the Swan Lake ballet, 1875-1876, which Yablonsky presented lyrically and with a wonderful sense of movement. Another noteworthy influence is the amazing running section by the flutes, reminiscent of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee, 1899-1890. Tchaikovsky’s beloved winds had plenty to do, performing the balletic melodies with allure and grace. Bassoonists Simon Ball and Brandon Phillips are to be commended, mastering alternating octaves and tricky triplets; horns were stunning with an unusually long, seamless pedal tone requiring expert breath control; and clarinets Beatrix du Toit and Oscar Kitten were magical with rippling arpeggios over a deep sea of cellos.

Yablonsky maintained his majestic style that carried him into the phenomenal, ground-shaking coda, releasing all reserves, and leaving the audience with a smile.

At the reception after the concert, I was talking to a retired architect who described how he likes to go on a journey or “trip” in his imagination, while listening to a piece of music, which is exactly how I first connected with music from the romantic period. I wondered how many others accept the invitation of the composer and performer, to allow the participation of our imagination with the story being told. Are composers and performers are like hypnotists, offering us the choice to follow the journey, or remain unmoved?

.

Don’t miss the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra next week!
Beethoven Triple Concerto
Schubert Symphony No. 8 “Unfinnished”
Stravinsky The Firebird Suit

.
Conductor: Dmitry Yablonsky
Soloists: Oxana Yablonskaya – piano, Dmitry Yablonsky – cello, Janna Gandelman – violin
Thursday 9 April 20h00, Cape Town City Hall

Bookings: Computicket or Artscape Dial-A-Seat: 021 421 7695