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Thursday, February 21, 2013


An evening of serious and impressive chamber music made for a consistently interesting and satisfying concert. (Review by Michael Green)

Five members of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra and a pianist from the staff of the University of KZN provided an evening of serious and impressive chamber music at the latest concert of the Friends of Music in the Durban Jewish Centre.

The performers were Elena Kerimova, first violin; her husband, Boris Kerimov, cello; Emi Fukuda, second violin; David Snaith, viola; Ian Holloway, clarinet; and Liezl-Maret Jacobs, piano. Their geographical origins are interesting:  two from Russia, one from Japan, two from England, one from South Africa.

Their programme consisted of works by Brahms and by two 20th century Russian composers, Shostakovich and Prokofiev. They opened with a masterwork of chamber music, Brahms’s Piano Quintet in F minor, Op. 34, written in 1864 when the composer was 31. This is a big composition in every sense, presented on the scale of a concerto. The four string players and the pianist achieved excellent ensemble and tonal balance, and Liezl-Maret Jacobs (who is head of piano studies at the university) played the difficult piano part with power and skill. An exciting performance of a majestic work.

A very different kind of music followed with Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet Op. 57, written 70 years ago and still very modern to most ears. It begins with a Bach-like prelude and fugue, and the three other movements are brilliant and eloquent. There was a memorable passage at the start of the Intermezzo when Elena Kerimova (an excellent leader of the group throughout the evening) played long solo violin phrases with her husband, Boris, playing a pizzicato accompaniment on the cello.

For the final item¸ Sergei Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes, the quintet were joined by Ian Holloway, clarinet. This is an attractive and concise work, written in 1919 for a group of Jewish musicians in New York. The title is self-explanatory. The music is at different times jovial and melancholy. It brought to an end a consistently interesting and satisfying concert.

Considering the number of first-class players available we have relatively little chamber music in Durban. How about some concerts presenting the chamber works of Mozart and Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert?

The Prelude Performer of the evening, funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was Wesley Lewis, an accomplished 21-year-old clarinettist. With Jacques Heyns at the piano he played two movements of a concerto by the Viennese composer Franz Vinzenz Krommer (1759-1831). - Michael Green