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Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Five performers gave much pleasure with an interesting programme. (Review by Michael Green)

With many gifted instrumentalists available in Durban and Pietermaritzburg, there is obviously much scope for chamber music performances, and the latest concert of the Friends of Music, at the Durban Jewish Centre, made good use of the opportunity.

Five performers played music ranging from the 18th century to the 20th. It was an interesting programme and it gave much pleasure to a big audience.

The four string players were all past and present members of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra:  GezaKayser (violin), Jitske Brien (violin), Nigel Fish (cello) and Claire Hamilton (viola). The fifth member of the group was David Smith, music educationist, pianist and harpsichordist.

They opened with a “Trio Sonata” by the 18th century Italian composer PietroLocatelli, played by the two violinists and the cellist, with David Smith at the harpsichord.

This four-movement work is typical of its time and place and, as David Smith’s programme notes observed, it “aims to create a pleasant mood”. The playing was first-rate.

Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella ballet music is probably well-known to many listeners but not in the form presented here, an arrangement for violin and piano made by the composer and the American violinist Samuel Dushkin.

This lovely music is derived from the 18th century composer Giovanni Pergolesi. GezaKayser and David Smith played it with appropriate grace and delicacy.

Music of a different kind came with the String Quartet, Op. 64 No. 3, by Joseph Haydn, one of the greatest composers of chamber music. The performance by the four very experienced and accomplished string players was, again, of top quality.

The high point of the evening, however, was without question Schubert’s Piano Trio in B flat, Op. 99, played by Geza Kayser, Nigel Fish and David Smith. The first movement was all the better for being taken at a deliberate, unrushed, tempo, and the performance as a whole was well-balanced and did full justice to this beautiful music.

The audience gave enthusiastic applause after this final item in a long programme.

The Prelude Performer of the evening, supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was 12-year-old Rachel Wedderburn-Maxwell, a pupil at Durban Girls’ College. She played a Debussy Arabesque and the Impromptu Op. 90 No. 4 by Schubert. The latter is a difficult piece for so young a performer but she played it with confidence and dexterity. - Michael Green