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Thursday, November 14, 2013


(Yura Lee & Tertia Visser Downie)

There is a big and splendid repertory of music for violin and piano and Yura Lee and Tertia Visser Downie presented some of the gems when they gave a recital for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.

Beethoven wrote ten violin sonatas, Brahms three, and all 13 of these works are outstanding in diverse ways.

Beethoven’s Op.12, No 1, is a delightful sonata, written in 1798 when the composer was 28 and making his name in Vienna as a virtuoso pianist and a writer of music in an entirely new style. In contrast, Brahms’s Op. 108 is a late work, written when the composer was 55 and had established himself as a major figure.

The performers excelled in both these widely different works. Yura Lee is a Korean who has lived in the United States for the past ten years. Tertia Visser Downie is a South African. Both are highly accomplished young players who have appeared together many times and have a close musical rapport.

The early Beethoven sonata shows the influence of Mozart and Haydn, but the distinctive touches are there, especially in the second movement, a theme and variations that could only have been written by Beethoven. The players obviously derived as much enjoyment from the work as the audience did.

The Brahms sonata is conceived on a large scale, and this brought forth more fine playing, with a precise attack in dramatic phrases and a lovely broad tone from the violinist in the Adagio.

After the interval came three famous pieces composed about a hundred years ago by Fritz Kreisler, who was probably the most celebrated of all violinists. The Praeludium and Allegro, Liebesleid (Love’s sorrow) and Liebesfreud (Love’s joy) were played with style and affection.

The brilliant Waltz-Scherzo by Tchaikovsky, tuneful and difficult, completed a most satisfying programme.

The Prelude Players of the evening, funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, were the young husband and wife combination of Brett Alborough (clarinet) and Nina Alborough (oboe). With Anne Muir at the piano they played an attractive Trio in B minor by Edouard Destenay (1850-1924), a part-time composer who spent most of his life as an officer in the French army. An unusual work, traditional with a touch of modernity, it was very well played.

Referring to the concert as a whole, my wife said afterwards:  “Lovely music.  Everyone was happy”.  Exactly. - Michael Green