The fourth concert in the second season (Wednesday 30 and Thursday 31 May, 2012) was well attended. This means that the selection of music wasn’t at all challenging. Gerhard Korsten was the conductor, and the orchestra like him and play well when he is on the podium.
The overture was the Rosamunde Overture by Schubert. It is also known as “Die Zauberharfe” (The Magic Harp) because it was used for a play of the same name. Of course it is a Magic Harp – one can neither see nor hear any harp! That’s my sense of humour, not a criticism. 🙂 Still, it is pretty music and was performed well. The Naxos NBD0019 CD with the Prague Sinfonia conducted by Christian Benda is the “Complete Overtures” by Franz Schubert.
The concerto was interesting to me because I have never heard it before – the Max Bruch Concerto for Clarinet and Viola, op 88, E minor. On clarinet was Phillip Coetzee, the principal clarinettist for the JPO. On viola we had Vladimir Ivanov, the principal violist for the JPO. Again, both the music and the playing of both soloists and orchestra were lovely. It is wonderful to hear our own musicians as soloists from time to time. I know that I am probably in the minority on this one, but I would love it if we had local musicians at least twice every season. Ok, I would like a whole season of our local players, but I realise this would be too risky – prophets are without honour in their own cities, to paraphrase the biblical stance on parochialism. Well done!
Beethoven’s own favourite symphony was apparently his seventh, and that’s the one we had after interval. In the programme notes Paul Boekkooi has us imagine what the premiere must have been like. The people considered this to be very radical and Beethoven to be raving mad. It was mostly well played although the brass let off a few bad notes. If the woodwind is the strongest section of the JPO, the brass is the weakest (yes, I know there are some individuals within the section who are wonderful) and I often wonder if they ever practice at home. The BBC Magazine recommend the Naxos recording of this under 8.553477, which also contains the 4th Symphony by Beethoven, with these words “If you are starting a collection this is the cycle to have.”
The concerts next week feature Thomas Sanderling on the podium with regular visitor to South Africa, Philippe Graffin on violin playing the Coleridge-Taylor Violin Concerto Op 80, G minor and Bruckner’s Symphony No 4, E-flat major. There is a pre-concert talk to help familiarise people with the music. This is free and it begins at 19:15.
The Linder Auditorium is situated at the Education campus of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), 27 St Andrews Road, Parktown. Telephone for the venue is 011 717 3223 and telephone for the JPO is 011 789 2733. GPS co-ordinates: 26° 10′ 54.6456″ S, 28° 2′ 29.8932″ E. Website: http://www.jpo.co.za. There is plenty of parking in front of the venue, with more to the sides and behind the auditorium. Facilities for physically disabled patrons are available. The Olives and Plates Cafe will be open before the concert, during interval and the bar will be open after the concert.
The ZK Matthews Hall is at the main campus of UNISA in Pretoria (first building on left as you enter the main campus). The number of the venue is 012 429 3344. You will need to make arrangements in advance for disabled parking and seating.