national Arts Festival Banner

Thursday, November 28, 2013


(Jerome Pernoo & Jerome Ducros)

Wonderfully successful recital. (Review by Michael Green)

The two Jeromes from France, Jerome Pernoo, cello, and Jerome Ducros, piano, are well-known and much appreciated in Durban; they have played here several times over the past dozen years. It was therefore not surprising that their latest recital for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre attracted a sizeable audience.

They did not disappoint their admirers. In a widely varied programme they displayed high technical skills, mature interpretative insight, and the special understanding that comes from many years of playing together.

They opened with one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s three splendid cello sonatas, written originally for a now obsolete instrument, the viola da gamba. The Sonata in D major, BWV 1028, is a four-movement work written 250 years ago and sounding remarkably modern to 21st century listeners.

The performers who are both about 40 years old, obviously enjoyed playing it, with cellist Pernoo the dominant figure. He has a flamboyant yet natural platform manner, and his playing, like that of pianist Ducros, is top-class.

After this came a composition by Ducros himself, an extended Fantaisie which, according to the composer, is like a sonata in a single movement. I found it very attractive¸ brilliant, stylish, often unmistakably French, with romantic, lyrical passages for the cello and some brilliant scoring for the piano, sometimes rather reminiscent of Chopin. Easy on the ear and not aggressively dissonant.

After the interval we had the finest of Beethoven’s five excellent cello sonatas, that in A major, Op. 69. Here again the tonal balance of the two performers was outstanding, Pernoo producing a golden tone on his 18th century cello and Ducros handling the difficult piano part with well-judged dynamics.

The particular gift of these performers is their ability to communicate their commitment and enthusiasm to their audience, and this was never more evident than in their lengthy and high-spirited encore, written, I think, by Jerome Ducros. It completed a wonderfully successful recital.

The Prelude Performer of the evening, funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was 14-year-old Blake Perryman, a pupil at Kearsney College. Accompanied by Bernard Kruger, he played two celebrated pieces, Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No. 5 and the Czardas written a century ago by the Italian composer Vittorio Monti. - Michael Green