KZN Philharmonic Orchestra 2023 SPRING Symphony Season Concert 4
Thu Nov 9, 19:00 - Thu Nov 9, 21:00
Playhouse Opera Theatre
Concert 4: 9 November
Conductor: Robert Moody
Soloist: Bryan Cheng, Cello
Dvorák: Mein Heim, Op.62
Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op.85
Sibelius: Symphony No 5 in E-flat Major, Op.82
The American conductor Robert Moody closes the season with a nostalgic travelogue – spanning the closing and opening decades of the 19th and 20th centuries – with Bohemia and Finland, framing the rolling hills of England. Dvorák wrote his symphonic poem, My Home, between December 1881 and January of the next year. One of nine numbers comprising incidental music for the play Josef Kajetán Tyl by František Ferdinand Šamberk, it is usually performed as a concert work that develops two song-themes associated with the drama’s titular protagonist. Sir Edward Elgar conceived his Cello Concerto in the aftermath of the First World War, when the composer’s music was in temporary decline with the public. For the most part contemplative and elegiac, the great work, now a cornerstone of the international cello repertoire, stands in stark contrast with English composer’s earlier Violin Concerto, which is lyrical and passionate.
The Cello Concerto’s first performance, conducted by the composer with the English virtuoso, Beatrice Harrison, failed to please due to inadequate rehearsal time. Although the great Pablo Casals also espoused it, but the work only achieved widespread popularity in the 1960s, when a recording by Jacqueline du Pré became a classical hit. In recent seasons the gifted young Canadian-born, Berlin-based cellist Bryan Cheng has earned international acclaim performing it. Maestro Moody’s programme closes with Sibelius’s epic Fifth Symphony. This was commissioned by the Finnish government in honour of his 50th birthday on 8 December 1915, which had been declared a national holiday.
The final version’s premiere by the Helsinki Philharmonic, conducted by the composer himself, took place 24 November 1919. The performance of the grandly affirmative work, which has been referenced by luminaries ranging from Leonard Bernstein to film makers John Coltrane and Steven Rae, rounds off the KZN Philharmonic’s 40th Anniversary season on an exultant high note.