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Sunday, September 30, 2012


(Boris Kerimov)

Review of the concert at the 2012 Witness Hilton Art Festival by Keith Millar

One thing that can be relied on from Boris Kerimov, principal cellist for the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, is that he will always push the envelope, be innovative, try something new. As a result, he often produces music which is creative, fresh and exciting.

And once again he has come up with winner. The ensemble of six cellos, with occasional percussion, which performed at this concert at the Witness Hilton Art Festival was an absolute delight.

Boris was joined on stage by Ralista Todorova, Marguerite Spies, Cecelia Di Cecco, Fiona Grayer and Nina Watson who are all colleagues from the KZNPO. The occasional percussion was provided by Stephane Pechoux also from the KZNPO.

Titled Celli-bration, the concert took place in the Hilton Chapel and was another offering from Christopher Duigan’s Music Revival Concert Series. As is the norm at Music Revival concerts, each item was introduced to the audience. Providing the insights and anecdotes on this occasion was the charming, and ever-smiling Fiona Grayer. She explained that there were five different home languages among the members of the ensemble, but this did not matter as music was universal and they had no problem communicating.  As if to prove this, the musicians produced dazzling and memorable performances while seeming to thoroughly enjoy what they were doing.

The programme was eclectic, to say the least. It included classical compositions from Vivaldi and Handel, while Bach’s Air on a G String, as expected, went down very well with the audience. It then moved to Latin America and all the passion and intensity of compositions by Villa Lobos and Francini.

On the lighter side we heard Errol Garner’s Misty, a traditional Irish jig called Toss the Feathers and an item by South African composer Alan Stephenson entitled Souvenir de Seville. The later being the only item on the programme which was composed specifically for this combination. The arrangements of several of the other pieces were by Boris Kerimov.

The concert was brought to a rousing end with Astor Piazolla’s Libertango during which Stephane Pechoux played some amazing percussion on a strange flying saucer shaped drum.

The most majestic of all string instruments, the cello has a tone of exceptional richness and warmth. Six of them playing together produced sound of breathtaking beauty. The audience loved it, and all I can say is … I want more! - Keith Millar