The Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra continues to go from triumph to triumph presenting a glorious four-week programme of classical concerts at the Linder Auditorium every season with each week seeing a new international guest conductor and guest soloists joining the orchestra in performance. The Summer Season, which ended in early March, was another outstanding success attracting both long dedicated classical music enthusiasts, as well as new audiences looking to discover the joys of classical music.
We all could do with finding and focusing on moments of calm and beauty during these unsettling times and so we asked cellist Polina Burdukova, the orchestra's artistic planning and production manager, and percussionist Matthew Downey, the orchestra's music librarian and stage manager, to share with us some magnificent classical works to listen to at home.
Claude Debussy: Clair de Lune - orchestral version
This piece was originally composed for piano solo but sounds even better in full orchestra version. Last year we celebrated one of humankind's greatest achievements - the anniversary of the first human landing on the moon - this is a tribute to our spirit of discovery.
Manuel De Falla: Ritual fire dance
This piece is a representation of the connection people have to nature and its vital role in our lives. With the global environmental crisis all around us, this is a good piece of music to remind ourselves that we are all connected.
Peter Tchaikovsky: Waltz of the flowers from The Nutcracker
A beautiful sound of orchestra accompanying ballet dancers on the grand stage - something to relax to and maybe invite that special someone to a dance!
Camille Saint-Saens: Aquarium from Carnival of the animals
Use your imagination! Deep under the sea there is a whole other world, full of wonderful creatures...
Emmanuel Chabrier: Espana
The colourful sounds of the great nation - Spain. Feel the joy, the spices and the national pride.
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on Greensleeves
A world long forgotten - a fairytale of magic and adventure.
Aram Khachaturian: Saber dance
The exuberance of youth and the maddening display of energy. Based on an Armenian folk tune this piece has become a signature piece of 20th-century classical music.
Samuel Barber: Adagio
Get ready for tears! This is a deeply emotional composition that will touch your very soul.
Edward Elgar: Nimrod from Enigma Variations
This is a story of rebirth and a fight against adversities - never give up and you can achieve anything!
Leonard Bernstein: Candide overture
One of the most popular pieces of classical music - full of happiness and fun.
Beethoven: 5th Symphony – 4th Movement (Allegro)
While the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is among the most well-known pieces of classical music, the fourth movement is full of life, joy and vigour.
Holst: The Planets – 1st Movement - Mars, the Bringer of War
It’s very loud and brash, and a lot of fun to play.
Mahler: 4th Symphony, 4th Movement (Sehr Behaglich)
The poem used in this piece, Das Himmlische Leben, presents a child’s view of heaven, and ends Mahler’s symphony off in a somewhat melancholic and contemplative tone.
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition – The Great Gate of Kiev
This piece, written as a musical counterpoint to architectural plans for a proposed monument in the city of Kiev, perfectly captures the enormous scale of the design.
Puccini: Manon Lescaut – Intermezzo from Act 3
A hauntingly beautiful piece, it perfectly foreshadows the tragic ending of the opera.
Respighi: The Pines of Rome – 4th Movement - On the Appian Way
Again, it’s very loud, and I recommend watching this segment from the animated film Fantasia 2000.
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 – 4th Movement (Finale)
This symphony is a marathon for the orchestra, and by the time you are done playing it, you feel like you have lost 5 kilograms!
Smetana: Ma Vlast – Moldau/Vlatava
This tone poem, depicting the Moldau River (or Vltava in Czech) as it passes through the Czech Republic, is immensely enjoyable, and relatively accessible.
Stravinsky: Firebird Suite – Final Hymn
In stark contrast to the rest of the Firebird Suite, most of which is very dark in tone, the Final Hymn is triumphant and jubilant.
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 – 4th Movement (Allegro Non Troppo)
Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony, an incredibly significant work in the history of 20th Century Music, starts with an almost barbaric beginning, but ends with an uplifting and powerful ending, symbolising the inevitable triumph of good over evil.