Philharmonic concert raises the bar for Geneva

By KENNETH MEYER This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank" style="color: #0000cc;">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 11:51

Concert review

On Sunday evening, those in Geneva brave enough to venture out into Mother Nature’s latest “challenge” were rewarded with an orchestral concert of the highest order. The Cape Town Philharmonic of South Africa, under the direction of conductor Martin Panteleev, was in town to complete their first tour of the United States. Eighteen concerts through nine states in three weeks with one final stop at the Smith Opera House.

Maestro Panteleev and the Philharmonic began the evening with a fabulous reading of Leonard Bernstein’s Overture to “Candide.” Considering the heat coming from the entire ensemble during the Overture’s brisk opening, any residual chills accumulated as one walked in from the snow melted away with the warm tone of the low strings as they entered with the lyrical second theme. Playing nearly every night for three weeks has certainly helped this ensemble develop symphony orchestra power with chamber ensemble articulation. A special feat illuminated in the Smith’s honest acoustic.

Traveling with the Philharmonic on this tour was the Russian-born and Julliard-trained violin virtuoso Philippe Quint. His performance of Tchaikovsky’s monumental Concerto for Violin and Orchestra cemented his reputation for all those in attendance as a violinist of supreme ability. Quint is a violinist who simply must be heard to be believed and most certainly deserves to be placed on the short list of today’s traveling virtuosi. This concerto is almost unanimously regarded as one of the most difficult in the violin’s concerto repertoire and Quint played it magnificently. He performed this concert on a 1723 “Ex-Kiesewetter” Antonio Stradivari violin on loan from Clement and Karen Arrison through the generous efforts of the Stradivari Society. Quint was equally effective in coaxing the tender opening theme out of this instrument in the first movement, giving a stunning reading of the very difficult cadenza and pushing this instrument to its limits during the breathless tempo of the concerto’s final movement. Throughout the work Maestro Panteleev and the Philharmonic were wonderful accompanists in tune to the dynamic needs of the soloist and clear in their own conviction and interpretation. At the conclusion of the work Quint thanked the audience for their continued applause and the Philharmonic for their tireless efforts during the tour with John Corrigliano’s “Red Violin Caprice No. 5.” A brilliant piece played with precision and to perfection.

The final selection on the concert was Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Symphonic Suite “Scheherazade.” Patrick Goodwin, the Philharmonic’s concertmaster and violinistic “voice” of Sultana (the stern Sultan of Schahriar’s storytelling wife) played with warmth and depth as he successfully captured the contrasting moods, images, actions and pictures of her stories. Rimsky-Korsakov, a member of the Russian-Five, composed in “Scheherazade” a piece that presents many challenges to the various sections and soloists that make up a symphony orchestra. The brass, woodwind, string sections and principle players navigated these tricky waters admirably, performing with crystal clear articulation and beautiful artistic vision. At the conclusion of the evening Maestro Panteleev and the Cape Town Philharmonic were rewarded for their efforts with a much-deserved standing ovation.