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Thursday, April 10, 2014


(Pierre-Andre Doucet)

Recital formed interesting combination of old and new, traditional and novel. (Review by Michael Green)

Pierre-Andre Doucet is a young Canadian pianist, and his recital for the Friends of Music, at the Durban Jewish Centre, was an interesting combination of old and new, traditional and novel.

The programme featured South African premieres of three North American works, all of them attractive and none of them aggressively avant-garde.

The Omaggio a D. Scarlatti (Homage to Scarlatti) by the 53-year-old Canadian composer Marc-Andre Hamelin, was an entertaining modern version of Scarlatti’s keyboard style, with strong rhythms and accents  and sharp dissonances, difficult to play.

The amusingly titled Desperate Measures by Robert Muczynski (1929-2010) turned out to be variations on the theme of Paganini’s 24th Caprice for violin, a tune that has fascinated other composers. Dozens of them, including Liszt, Brahms and Rachmaninov, have used it for sets of variations.  Muczysnki’s version is ingenious and brilliant in concept.

The third contemporary work on the programme was Jared A. Miller’s A la claire fontaine (At the clear fountain) variations, based on a French folk-song that has become immensely popular in Canada.

From the older composers came three sonatas by Scarlatti and two big pieces by Liszt, the beautiful Harmonies du soir (Evening harmonies) and the Ballade No. 2 in B minor.

Pierre-Andre Doucet is an accomplished pianist of the romantic, full-blooded school. His Liszt performances were impressive, and the original Scarlatti sonatas from the 18th century were musically far superior to the modern “Homage” that followed.

The audience was small.  It seems that in Durban there is some consumer resistance to contemporary music.

The Prelude Performer of the evening, supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was the pianist Rashalia Pather. She played with grace and elegance a Haydn sonata and one of Debussy’s most effective small pieces, Les collines d’Anacapri (The hills of Anacapri), depicting life on the island of Capri, from the first book of his Preludes. - Michael Green