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Thursday, October 30, 2014


(Avigail Bushakevitz & Ammiel Bushakevitz)

Sister and brother present evening of total delight for Friends of Music. (Review by Michael Green)

The violinist Avigail Bushakevitz (26) and the pianist Ammiel Bushakevitz (28), sister and brother, were born in Israel but grew up in South Africa, in George, and began their musical education and public performances here.

They now live mainly in Europe and North America, but I think they can be claimed as South African, and as such they are brilliant adornments to our musical scene.

Their latest appearance here, for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre, was an evening of total delight for the large audience who attended.

In a wide-ranging programme that included several unfamiliar items they showed themselves to be gifted, committed, unaffected and natural artists, free of extravagant posturing (and dressed properly for the occasion, in formal evening clothes!).

They opened with three short works of a nocturnal character, a Berceuse (lullaby) by Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936), another Berceuse, Op. 38, by Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) and a piece called Reve (Dream) by Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881).

These immediately established the quality of the recital, the violin calm and tender, the piano in lovely gentle partnership.
The empathy and understanding one would expect from a brother and sister combination was evident throughout the recital, which continued with Mozart’s Sonata in A major K. 526, one of the lesser known, l think, of Mozart’s roughly 30 violin sonatas.

Here again the playing was skilful and finely balanced, especially in the solemn and profound slow movement.

Next we had two works for unaccompanied solo violin. The first was the slow movement of a sonata by Paul Ben-Haim (1897-1984), a German-born composer who emigrated to Palestine after the rise of the Nazis. Avigail played this impressive music with exquisite purity of tone.

This was followed by Recitativo and Scherzo-Caprice by Fritz Kreisler, and then Ammiel took the stage alone for two of Liszt’s brilliant (and very difficult) piano transcriptions of Schubert songs, To be sung on the water and The Erl-king. Here was evidence of why this player is earning a reputation as a virtuoso pianist.

The two performers ended a memorable recital with a splendid account of Schubert’s Rondo in B minor, which dates from 1826 and is a fine work, imposing at the start, with irresistible rhythms at the end.

The prelude performer of the evening, supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was Nompilo Mathe, a young oboe player who showed good technique in an oboe concerto by Handel, with Anne Muir at the piano. - Michael Green