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Thursday, September 6, 2012


(Darragh Morgan, Robin Michael and Mary Dullea)

An evening of exceptional musical pleasure. (Review by Michael Green)

An evening of exceptional musical pleasure was provided by the Fidelio Trio when they played for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.

The members of the trio are English, Scottish and Irish, and they are based in London, but they have South African connections going back several years. Mary Dullea, the pianist, was a music lecturer at the University of KZN, Darragh Morgan (violin) was a member of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, and Robin Michael (cello) played as a soloist in South Africa for the first time in 2004.

They have achieved much success abroad as chamber players and this latest concert showed that their taste in music matches their high skills. A wide-ranging programme opened with Beethoven’s Trio in E flat major, Op 1, No. 1, surely one of the most remarkable of all Opus Ones. Beethoven was about 23 when he wrote it and the audience at the first performance, in Prince Karl Lichnowsky’s house in Vienna in 1795, must have been very surprised. The scherzo in particular must have shown them that they were entering a new world of sound.

This wonderfully bold and original work by Beethoven was given a spirited and perceptive performance by the Fidelio Trio. They showed the mutual understanding and rapport created by a long association, and indeed this close sense of ensemble was apparent throughout the concert.

Next on the programme was the Piano Trio in D minor by Gabriel Fauré, written in 1924 when this refined and subtle French composer was 78 years old. Another outstanding composition, this, and Mary Dullea in particular excelled in Fauré’s distinctive rippling and melodious piano part.

After the interval came a rich, romantic novelty, a transcription by Saint-Saëns of Liszt’s well-known Orpheus symphonic poem for orchestra.

And finally we had Anton Arensky’s Piano Trio in D minor, written almost exactly a hundred years after the Beethoven trio that opened the concert. Arensky, a Russian, died of tuberculosis in 1906, aged 44. He has never really received due recognition of his talents. He wrote unusually attractive music, including this trio (and some lovely works for two pianos).

Here, as in the rest of the programme, the Fidelio Trio performed the music with commitment and insight, and they were rewarded with prolonged applause at the end.

The Prelude Performers of the evening, funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, were soprano Lauren Dasappa and baritone/bass Azola Mabutho. Accompanied at the piano by Andrew Warburton, they made a good impression as they sang music by Puccini, Richard Rodgers and Mozart. - Michael Green