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Wednesday, October 26, 2011


(Peter Bruns)

Top-class performances in perfect programme chosen for this cello and piano recital. (Review by Michael Green)

Peter Bruns and Annegret Kuttner chose the perfect programme for this cello and piano recital for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre: three sonatas running for about 25 minutes each, widely different but all of them masterworks.

The performance was top-class throughout, and the result was an evening of memorable music.

Peter Bruns and Annegret Kuttner are both German. He is, I would guess, in his forties, a burly figure with a mane of grey hair. She is, guessing again, about 30, slender, pretty and young. They are husband and wife. They have played music together for some years, and it is not surprising that they do so with total understanding and tonal balance.

He produces a rich, full sound from his cello, which was made in 1730 and which was once owned by the celebrated Pablo Casals. She has an outstanding keyboard technique with a light and sympathetic touch admirably suited to ensemble playing of this kind.

They opened their recital with Mendelssohn’s Sonata in D major, Op. 58, which is perhaps not as well-known as it should be. Written in 1843, it is a typically graceful work, melodious, lyrical, with an outstanding slow movement that starts with slow rolling arpeggios from the solo piano.

Annegret Kuttner handled the difficult piano part with apparent ease, and Peter Bruns played with great vigour, especially in the final Allegro.

Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata is a musical curiosity, as its name indicates. It was written in 1824 for the arpeggione, a six-stringed instrument that was held upright, like a cello. The instrument was briefly popular in Vienna but has long since disappeared from the musical scene. Schubert’s sonata has, however, survived as a work for cello or viola. It is an exceptionally fine composition, with an eloquent slow movement and many lilting, song-like themes elsewhere.
Peter Bruns and Annegret Kuttner extracted full value from this lovely music.

Finally, we had music from the ultimate master, Beethoven, represented by the finest of his five cello sonatas, that in A major, Op. 69. Perhaps I should emphasise that in all these works the pianist is an equal partner, not an accompanist, as is clear from the interplay of their roles in this sonata. Here again the rapport between the two performers was outstanding.

The Prelude Performer of the evening, funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was Milton Chissano from Mozambique, who played three pieces on an electric guitar. - Michael Green