KZN Philharmonic Orchestra World Symphony Series Winter Season Concert 2
THURSDAY, 9 JUNE 2022
Conductor: Daniel Boico
Soloist: Leo Gevisser, piano
Berlioz: Béatrice et Bénédict Overture
Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 5, Op. 103 in F Major, “Egyptian”
Brahms: Symphony No. 3, Op. 90 in F Major
Based on Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing, Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict premièred in August 1862 in Baden-Baden with the composer conducting. The work superbly captures the effervescent wit of its Shakespearean prototype, and its mercurial overture swiftly showed its credentials as a brilliant curtain raiser in the concert hall too.
With Daniel Boico on the podium, it is sure to fly its colours to full effect before we welcome the gifted young South African pianist Leo Gevisser to the stage as the evening’s soloist. Saint-Saëns’s Piano Concerto No. 5 is filled with strange, exotic sounds. Dubbed the “Egyptian” as it was written in the ancient temple town of Luxor during one of his frequent winter vacations, the work’s ‘in situ’ evocations include a prominent theme found in its rhapsodic second movement, that was inspired by a Nubian love song sung by boatmen on the Nile. We also hear graphic sound effects conjuring the overtones created by chirping Nile crickets. Saint-Saëns further broadens his scope to suggest a sea voyage, with evocations of Spain, the Middle East and Java.
Composed in 1883, Brahms’s Third is the shortest of his four symphonies. It is notable for its cohesive structure, with thematic material reappearing across multiple movements. Brahms’s long-time friend and musical confidant Clara Schumann observed: “All the movements seem to be of one piece, one beat of the heart, each one a jewel! From start to finish one is wrapped about with the mysterious charm of the woods and forests. I could not tell you which movement I loved most.” Clara heard the woods and the forests, but the river should also be mentioned. The first theme, which returns at the end of both the first and last movements, is a quote from Robert Schumann’s “Rhenish” Symphony. In addition to the passionate turbulence so common in Brahms’s works, we experience a gentle intimacy in this symphony, whose four movements all end softly.
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