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Friday, July 3, 2015


Effective display of the great gifts of early composers. (Review by Michael Green)

The Baroque 2000 group of musicians, who give frequent Sunday performances at the Mariannhill Monastery, made a welcome visit to the Durban Jewish Centre in a special appearance for the Friends of Music.

The programme was a repeat of an earlier recital called Earth’s Sounds. Seventeen players performed three works written about 300 years ago. The instruments involved were violin, viola, cello, double bass, harpsichord, flute, oboe, bassoon, percussion and trumpet. Most of the players are members of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.

The composers were two Frenchmen, Jean Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) and Jean-Fery Rebel (1666-1747), and an Austrian with the unfortunate name of Fux, Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741), pronounced Fooks, which may be some comfort to English-speakers.

It is noteworthy that all three lived into their eighties, this at a time when life expectancy for adults in Europe was about 35. Music is presumably good for one’s health.

The Baroque 2000 programme was an effective display of the great gifts of these early composers. An overture by Fux and a four-movement “concert” by Rameau were graceful, elegant, original, but the most remarkable piece was the item called Les Elemens, The Elements, by Rebel.

This is intended to represent the creation of the world, and it opens with thunderous, cacophonous discords signifying the chaos that existed before the Creator sorted things out. This music is prophetic; you could almost mistake it for something by Stravinsky written 200 years later. Incidentally, it includes the use of a wind machine, a rather rare instrument consisting of a rotating cylinder.

The performance of the entire programme was outstanding, with the leading violinist, Ralitza Macheva, setting the mood in vigorous style. The music was enjoyable at all times. These old composers showed many modern touches, and they also showed that they lived close to nature; parts of the music gave the sounds of the nightingale, quail, cuckoo and chicken.

A large and enthusiastic audience showed their appreciation with prolonged applause.

The Prelude Performer of the evening, supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was Ané Dippenaar, an 18-year-old soprano who has been a member of the KZN Youth Choir since 2012.

She performed three songs with a common theme, the misfortunes of young women abandoned by lovers. The arias were Per la Gloria (“For love my heart longs”), from a 1722 opera by Giovanni Bononcini ; Das Verlassene Magdlein (“The Forsaken Maiden”) by Hugo Wolf (1804-1875) and “In  His Eyes” from the 1990 American musical Jekyll and Hyde by Frank Wildhorn. - Michael Green