This past weekend I ended my concert-going year on a spectacular note
(both literally and figuratively!). The program included Elgar's Violin
Concerto and the 2nd symphony by Sibelius and the orchestra was the Cape
Town Philharmonic under the baton of Owen Arwell Hughes.
I have never before encountered the Elgar Violin Concerto. I assumed it
would be a large work, but I was unprepared for the sheer size and length
of the concerto! The violinist was South African ZoŽ Beyers, recently
appointed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and she gave a marvellous
account of the difficult solo part. Just the fact that she played almost
non-stop for an hour is no mean feat!
I have only known a few other works by Elgar - the Cello Concerto, Pomp
and Circumstance Marches and the Enigma Variations - and was thus quite
surprised by the very romantic sound of this work. What struck me the
most was the fact that the violin seemed embedded into the orchestra,
rather than just being a soloist. Elgar's love of riddles also came
through quite strongly in the last movement, it seemed to me almost like
a musical labyrinth at one stage, with seemingly dead-ends and glimpses
of the main themes. All-in-all a wonderful work and I am at the moment
searching for a recording. Any recommendations?
The concert ended with the Sibelius, a work I know well, but have never
seen performed. I must say it was mind-blowing, the way the main theme
emerged at the end and the wonderful passages for the brass, as well as
a large part for the tuba, my ex-instrument. It was great to hear the
big guy from the brass section laying the foundation in some of the
I would say recitals by world class musicians like, Konstantin Sherbakov,
Sergei Nakariakov and Maria Kliegel, together with this last concert
were my concert-going highlights this year. What would rank as your most
memorable concert experiences for 2007?
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