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Thursday, June 25, 2015


An evening of delectable music. (Review by Michael Green)

Six musicians with talents covering a wide field, a vocal quartet and two pianists, gave an evening of delectable music for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.

It was a multinational as well as a multicultural event, for they came from South Africa, the United States and South Korea. And all but one had appeared recently with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.

The exception was Liezl-Maret Jacobs of Durban, an outstanding pianist. The other performers were Bronwen Forbay, soprano, originally from Durban, now living the United States; her husband Randall Umstead, tenor, American; Jamie van  Eyck, mezzo soprano, American; Christian Bester, baritone, South African now living in the United States; and Kaju Lee, pianist, Korea.

Anybody taking a casual look at the programme might think that he or she had stumbled by mistake into a medical conference. All six are doctors – of music. Ah well, music can ease many ailments.

The programme was on the light side and none the worse for that. Brahms’s two groups of Liebeslieder, 36 short love songs, were the main items of the evening. They are not often presented in their original form, as they were here, vocal quartet and piano duet, with some solo parts for the singers. They are delightful, and all the performances were very good.

The rest of the programme consisted of songs, mainly solo items, by Johann Strauss II (Die Fledermaus) and Franz Lehar (The Merry Widow and Land of Smiles). With such a variety of voices it would be difficult and unfair to make comparisons. Suffice it to say that all the singers were excellent, and they aroused much enthusiasm in the audience.

Kaju Lee and Liezl-Maret Jacobs provided first-class support at the keyboard, and Kaju Lee gave the only solo piano performance of the evening with a spirited account of Schumann’s Aufschwung (Soaring), from his Fantasiestucke, Op. 12.
The Prelude Performer of the evening, supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was Bogomil Hadjiev, a violinist who is a grade six pupil at the Deutsche Schule at Cowies Hill. Accompanied by Dana Hadjiev, he showed promise and poise in playing Massenet’s well-known Meditation and a Rondino by P Hadjiev.  - Michael Green