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Thursday, March 27, 2014


Second Cellibration programme for Friends of Music a great success. (Review by Michael Green)

The cello has featured prominently in classical music in Durban this year, and the pattern was maintained in the latest concert of the Friends of Music in the Durban Jewish Centre.

Entitled Cellibration, an obvious play on words, it featured six musicians from the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, four of them cellists.

This is the second time that a Cellibration programme has been presented for the Friends of Music and, like the first, it was a great success. The cello is, of course, a lovely instrument that speaks eloquently in a wide range of musical moods and styles, and these expert players provided a consistently enjoyable evening of music from the 16th century to the 20th, from baroque to rock.

Boris Kerimov, the leader of the orchestra’s cello section, leads this group as well, and he did so in this concert with clear and good-humoured authority. The other cellists were Alejandro Mariangel Pradenas, Marguerite Spies and Fiona Grayer, and the outside support came from Elena Kerimova, violin (Boris’s wife) and Stephane Pechoux, percussion.

There were 15 items on the programme, most of them from South America (notably music by Astor Piazzolla, the tango king) and from Eastern Europe. These were skillfully arranged for four cellos, and were much appreciated by the audience.

There were two high points of the evening. One was the performance of Bach’s famous Chaconne in D minor, a series of 64 variations on a brief, powerful theme, evidence again of the astonishing modernity of Bach’s music to ears in the 21st century.  In this programme the performance stood out like a lighthouse in a sea of attractive wavelets.

The other high point was the appearance of the violinist Elena Kerimova wearing a stunning short purple dress with a transparent skirt below it, the entire outfit doing justice to her excellent figure. A rhapsody in purple.

After her first item with the cellos, somebody sitting near me said admiringly “She can play too”. Indeed she can. She gave virtuoso performances of rapid showpieces by the Romanian composer Grigoras Dinicu and of works by Piazzola. She and her husband Boris are Russians who came to Durban 15 years ago and have made a very important contribution to music here.

The Prelude Performer of the evening, supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was the baritone Ivo Almond who is, I understand, an English exchange student currently studying at Kearsney College. Accompanied at the piano by Bonita Ziegelmeier, he sang excerpts from Songs of Travel by Vaughan-Williams, and he displayed an accurate, well-controlled voice of high quality. - Michael Green