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Friday, February 20, 2015


(Aviram Reichert)

Astonishing skills in brilliant piano recital. (Review by Michael Green)

The Israeli pianist Aviram Reichert gave a brilliant recital of masterworks when he played for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.

He has built a big international reputation over the past 20 years or so, and he has visited South Africa several times. On this occasion his Durban audience were again impressed by the controlled power of his playing.

He opened his programme with Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 109 in E major, one of the greatest works in the entire keyboard repertory. He gave a compelling interpretation of this complex, philosophical music, and the high points came, inevitably, in the sublime final movement, a set of six variations on an other-worldly theme. The listeners seemed spellbound, and there was a perceptible awed silence at the end before they broke into enthusiastic applause.

Then came the most famous of all the 32 Beethoven sonatas, Op. 27 No. 2 in Csharp minor, the Moonlight Sonata. The beautiful Adagio first movement was played with subtlety and delicacy, and the rest of the sonata produced a splendid display of virtuosity, especially in the final Presto agitato.

This was followed by two works in very different mood. They both gave the pianist ample opportunity to display his formidable technique and big tone.

The one-movement sonata No. 5, Op. 53, by the Russian composer Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) was composed more than a hundred years ago, but it is still remarkably revolutionary to most 21st century ears. It is one of the most difficult pieces ever written for the piano, and Aviram Reichert showed astonishing skills as he delivered the sound and fury of Scriabin’s rapid octaves and chords.

The programme was completed with the more familiar strains of Chopin’s Sonata in B flat minor Op. 5, the one with the celebrated funeral march. The pianist revelled in this powerful, romantic music, and another virtuoso performance brought an ovation from the audience.

The Prelude Performer of the evening was 12-year-old Rachel Wedderburn-Maxwell, a pupil at Durban Girls’ College. She is a pianist and a violinist. On this occasion we heard her in the latter role, in which she displayed a precocious talent remarkable in one so young.

Friends of Music acknowledges the support of its funders including the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. - Michael Green