MUSIC by two very different German composers, Felix Mendelssohn and Johannes Brahms, has opened the eight-concert spring season of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra in the Durban City Hall.

The programme, and the appearance of an international celebrity soloist, Israeli violinist Shlomo Mintz (pictured), drew a large and appreciative audience.

Under the direction of another visiting musician, the young Bulgarian conductor Rossen Milanov, the orchestra opened with a sparkling account of Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture.

This irresistible music, written in 1826 when the composer was only 17, put everybody in a good mood, and the happy atmosphere was accentuated when Mintz played the first notes of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor.

This work, the peak of Mendelssohn’s output, is a perennial favourite and it has become a kind of signature tune for Mintz, who has played it in many parts of the world.

The concerto is a continuous flow of melody, and the violinist produced a beautiful tone throughout, handling the many technical difficulties with consummate ease.

It was a memorable performance, and the audience gave Mintz prolonged and excited applause, to which he responded with an encore, a very difficult and spectacular Caprice by Paganini.

Brahms’s Symphony No 4, also in E minor, occupied the second half of the programme.

This is a great work, complex and serious, but with plenty of serenity, lyricism, power, vitality.

Milanov and the orchestra gave due emphasis to its many subtleties, especially in the final movement, a set of 30 variations on an eight-note theme.

This music is not exactly “popular” in the conventional sense, but the audience showed every sign of total enjoyment.

An excellent start to the new season. –