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Wednesday, February 19, 2014


(Peter Bruns & Annegret Kuttner)

Evening of great pleasure from distinguished husband and wife musical partnership. (Review by Michael Green)

A distinguished husband and wife musical partnership from Germany provided an evening of great pleasure when they played for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.

Peter Bruns has established an international reputation as a cellist and his wife, Annegret Kuttner, has been his regular partner at the piano for several years. Predictably enough, their performances show the close empathy and understanding that is so important in music of this type.

Both of them are exceptional executants on their instruments. Peter Bruns plays a 300-year-old cello that was once owned by Pablo Casals, and he extracts from it a strong and beautiful golden tone. At the keyboard Annegret Kuttner displays a fine technique and a subtle touch. She is a slender, youthful person, but she generates considerable power at the piano when it is needed.

The programme for their Durban recital consisted of three relatively little known works by three major composers, Schumann, Chopin and Brahms, all fairly late works. Robert Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70, was written originally for horn and piano but the composer also produced versions for violin and cello. It is a romantic piece, with the warm glow so typical of Schumann’s music, and it was played with obvious affection and dedication.

Chopin’s Cello Sonata, Op. 65, is one of the composer’s very few ventures away from the solo piano, and it is his last significant composition before his death in 1849 at the age of 39. It is skillfully written and is adorned, especially in the second and third movements, with the flowing melodies that were Chopin’s fingerprints. It was delightful to hear this neglected sonata in a splendid performance, with both players making the most of Chopin’s beautiful music. Annegret Kuttner handled the difficult piano part with style and aplomb.

Finally, this gifted couple played Brahms’s big, bold Cello Sonata in F major, Op. 99, which dates from 1886. The cellist played with great force and conviction, and his pizzicato dialogue with the pianist in the second movement was one of the high points of a memorable performance.

The Prelude Performer of the evening, supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was Amy Diack, an accomplished young recorder player who was accompanied at the piano by Bobby Mills. - Michael Green