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Friday, September 28, 2012


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

One of South Africa’s leading concert pianists, Christopher Duigan, provided the warmth on a chilly Saturday morning at The Witness Hilton Arts Festival with a pleasing selection classical masterpieces entitled Concert Classics.

The concert was presented in the attractive stone chapel at Hilton College which was the home for all events presented by Christopher Duigan’s Music Revival initiative. This venue with its vaulted ceiling has a very pleasing acoustic for classical music.

As usual, Duigan introduced each piece in his charming and urbane fashion. His down-to-earth explanations, interesting analogies and occasional anecdotes certainly add another dimension to one’s understanding and enjoyment of the music.

The concert started with three Scarlatti Sonatas. Domenico Scarlatti composed over 500 Sonatas for keyboard in his life and from these, the K380, K87 and K125 were chosen. They were effortlessly played and Duigan showed that he has the “nimble fingers” required to deal with the technical difficulties of the pieces.

Beethoven was next. The Sonata Pathétique Op. 13 has three movements and is full of emotion and drama.

This was followed by Impromptus by Franz Schubert and selections from French composer Claude Debussy’s Images. The later fitted in perfectly to the Music Revival’s “Green” theme for the Festival as it is a descriptive piece depicting the tinkling sounds of running water.

Duigan brought the concert to its conclusion with three Argentinean Dances by Alberto Ginastera. These items were filled with Latin passion, and the final Danza del gaucho mattrero offered wonderful imagery of the Argentinean cowboys galloping their horses over the pampas.

Throughout the concert, Duigan played with his usual mastery of his instrument, accuracy, and passion. The highly appreciative audience was captivated by his playing. That is, all except for a baby who chose the quietest passage of music to voice its displeasure.

Duigan is to be congratulated for his ongoing efforts to promote classical music, make it more accessible to the public in general, and to show that this type of music is cool. – Keith Millar