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Friday, June 13, 2014


(Ilya Gringolts)

Virtuoso performances in taxing programme in which violinist and pianist are equal partners. (Review by Michael Green)

Two young Russians gave a virtuoso performance when they played three violin and piano sonatas for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.

The violinist Ilya Gringolts (32) and the pianist Peter Laul (36) were both born in St Petersburg and they have both established international reputations as soloists and as ensemble players.

A good-sized audience braved cold weather in Durban to hear them in a taxing programme of big works in which violinist and pianist are equal partners.

They began with Antonin Dvorak’s Sonata in F major, Op. 57. This is not, I think, very well known.  It is typical of this composer’s extraordinary gifts, replete with the melodies and dance rhythms of his native Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic).

The performance was outstanding.  Both Gringolts and Laul are vigorous and dynamic players. There is nothing diffident about their approach to music. The final movement of the Dvorak in particular was played with great zest and skill.

The major work of the evening was Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor, Op. 30 No. 2. All Beethoven’s ten violin sonatas are good, and this is one of the best, powerful, dramatic and at times humorous. The performance was totally convincing, and the remarkable accents and cross-rhythms of the third movement were handled with aplomb.

The final item on the programme was Richard Strauss’s Sonata in E flat major, Op. 18, written in 1888 when the composer was 24 years old and in love (he subsequently married the girl, an operatic soprano).

It is a fine example of German late romantic music, with many hints of the big works that Strauss wrote later, the orchestral tone poems and the operas.

The players showed their versatility, skills and good judgment with another resounding performance.

The Prelude Performer of the evening, supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was Arianna Carini, a guitar player who is an 18-year old matric pupil at Eden College, Durban. - Michael Green