THE music of Mozart, a big choir, a gifted young violinist and an accomplished conductor were the conspicuous features when the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra gave the penultimate concert of its winter season on Thursday at the Durban City Hall.

Avigail Bushakevitz, who grew up in SA and is now studying in the Us, was the soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No 4 in D major, and she confirmed the very good impression she had made two days earlier in a recital for the Friends of Music.

She played the highly ornamented rapid passages with confidence and skill, and showed a lovely pure tone in the Andante, a typically Mozartian flow of melody.

The conductor, Arjan Tien from the Netherlands, contributed to the success of the performance by drawing sympathetic and admirably controlled playing from the orchestra.

The concert opened with one of Mozart’s lesser-known overtures, La Clemenza di Tito, written for an opera about the Roman emperor Titus; a brief, lively and strong piece.

The main work of the evening was Mozart’s beautiful Requiem, written soon before his death in 1791 (some of it may have been written by somebody else). The choral part was sung by a choir of about 130 people, made up of singers from Sounds of Joy, the Durban Symphonic Choir and the Clermont Community Choir.

The four soloists were Kelebogile Boikanyo, soprano; Veramarie Meyer, mezzo-soprano; Lionel Mkhwanazi, tenor; and Melusi Kubheka, baritone.

The solo singing was of high quality, especially that of the soprano Boikanyo, and the four showed a good sense of ensemble when they sang together.

The choir was splendid. Tonal balance was good, the entries were accurately timed and every big crescendo was executed with power.

Conductor Tien had apparently spent a good deal of rehearsal time concentrating on the choir and his efforts produced some excellent results.

Bushakevitz also performed at the Friends of Music event at the Durban Jewish Centre early in the week with her brother, the pianist Ammiel Bushakevitz.

Both are accomplished and mature artistes – this was absolutely clear from their appearance for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre on Tuesday.

In a wide-ranging programme of music that would have been mainly unfamiliar to the audience, they demonstrated high technical skills, interpretative insight, and the rapport one would expect from siblings two years apart. They are poised and experienced performers, confident in their abilities and pleasantly unmannered on the stage.

They opened their recital with Schubert’s Sonata in A major, D 574, an ineffably melodious and blissful kind of composition, especially the first movement. It was played with grace and fluency, and with the singing cantabile tone appropriate for Schubert’s lyricism.

Then, in complete contrast, came Bartok’s second violin and piano sonata, a two-movement work. Written 90 years ago it is still challenging to listen to, with its harsh dissonances and relentless rhythms.

It was played with virtuoso skill, from both performers, and, predictably, it elicited a mixed response from members of the audience. “Lovely and exciting,” said a man near me. “Just noise,” said the person sitting next to him.

It is worth noting, perhaps, that in all the works on the programme, the performers were equal partners; there was no question of the pianist being an “accompanist”.

After the interval came the beautiful romantic Poeme by Ernest Chausson (1855-1899), better known in its original version for violin and orchestra; a typically attractive Meditation by Tchaikovsky; and a vigorous five-movement Partita written in the modern style by the Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994).

In response to the prolonged applause, the performers played a lively short piece by Bartok.

The prelude performer of the evening, which was funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was Brett Alborough, an accomplished clarinet player, with Jacques Heyns at the piano.

A very good performance was warmly applauded. –