Last week classical music lovers had the opportunity of hearing and experiencing two canonical works, and a modern work by Cape Town-based composer Peter Klatzow, all performed by the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Pieter Daniel. The audience turnout was excellent, and there was great excitement in the air before the concert began. Not only was it unusual that not one but two concertos were being performed (Mozart and Klatzow), but I was delighted that two of my favourite works were on the programme: the Mozart Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K 219 and the Brahms Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68.
The concert began with the Mozart Violin Concerto. Played in the performance practice of that time period for the first time in South Africa (no small feat), South African-born Pieter Daniel was both the soloist (on the violin) and the conductor of the orchestra. As a whole, the concerto was well performed, but there were some disappointing intonation errors on the soloist’s part.
The second work was a first for me – a concerto for vibraphone, marimba and strings, composed by Peter Klatzow and performed by Magdalena de Vries (marimba) and Frank Mallows (vibraphone). What was most fascinating throughout the four movements was the level of musicality of the soloists, who played each note with utter confidence and finesse. The orchestra produced an array of tones and textures, and the solo sections played by the concert master were searingly beautiful. Each of the four movements maintained and built on the quality of the last and after the final note of the fourth movement, the audience erupted into mammoth applause which eventually transformed into a standing ovation.
After the interval, it was time for the most anticipated work of the evening – the great Brahms Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 68. As an avid Brahms listener myself, this work is possibly my favourite of the four Brahms symphonies. From the first note, I was immediately engaged with all the textures, harmonies and timbres. The orchestra played each note flawlessly and elegantly, producing a rich romantic sound throughout. It was a truly great performance, with the orchestra playing as one unit, and judging by the second standing ovation of the night I was not the only one truly taken aback by the quality and musicianship.
This was without a doubt an outstanding concert – a night filled with great music and great musicians. I look forward to more.
Norman is a BMus graduate (Stellenbosch University) and freelancing violinist and violist.
This concert, featuring Magdalena de Vries, Frank Mallows, Pieter Daniel and the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, took place at the City Hall on 17 April 2014.