Arts for Africa – Music

2011-06-04 12:36

More imaginative ­programming will be in evidence in the KZN Philharmonic’s main stage concert when it performs this year at the Festival.

The orchestra will link up with the acclaimed French virtuoso ­cellist, Jérôme Pernoo, to reprise the spectacular triumph they scored in ­Durban last year with a show-stopping performance of Offenbach’s rarely heard ­Concerto Militaire.

This richly lyrical, hugely challenging warhorse – grandly conceived for ­Offenbach’s own performances – poses the formidable challenges of a 45-minute musical steeple chase.

Long before he became a famous composer, Offenbach was a celebrated cellist, who shared concert platforms with the likes of Liszt and Paganini. Concerto Militaire premiered in 1847, 11 years before Offenbach’s operetta, ­Orpheus in the Underworld, took the world by storm.

After the concerto’s first ­performance, it fell into neglect for more than a century as its second and third movements were lost. Five years ago, musicologist ­Jean-Christophe Keck found the ­complete score in an archive in Cologne, Germany.

Pernoo was the first cellist to record this authentic version of the concerto, a work whose glitteringly bravura passages contrast with the martial rhythmic effects of the first and third movements.

Its second movement, however, bears all the composer’s trade-mark gifts for sumptuous melody.

The finale boasts a fine display of ­“infantry shots” despatched by the ­percussion section of the orchestra.

This is not to be missed by concert-goers who enjoy ­discovering a dazzling ­repertoire that is off the beaten track.

The Orchestra will also partner concert pianist Ben Schoeman, this year’s Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Music, in a gala concert; as well as accompany the Cape Town City Ballet performances of ­Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

» The KZN Philharmonic Concert takes place on June 30 at 7pm. Ben Schoeman’s Piano Recital is on June 30 at 3pm and July 1 at 7pm.

The Cape Town City Ballet’s Swan Lake is on July 1 at 7pm and July 2 at 11am and 7pm 

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