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Tuesday, July 14, 2015


(Annelize De Villiers)

(Reviews from the artSMart team at the 2015 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown)

A concert out of the top drawer. (Review by Keith Millar)

After a very successful visit to the 2015 National Arts Festival, the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra brought the curtain down on their performance schedule with a delightful recital by their Chamber Ensemble.

Appearing at the Rhodes Chapel for the second time during the festival the ensemble presented a programme of music which was inspired by the rhythms of Africa.

The String Quartet of Joanna Frankel and Violeta Osohean (violin), David Snaith (viola), and David Pinoit (cello) started the proceedings with an excellent performance of Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major.

It is thought that music heard on a trip to East Africa by Ravel may have influenced this work. However, there are those that feel that his partial Spanish roots were the inspiration. Be that as it may, it is one of the most widely performed chamber music works in the classical repertoire. Led by the phenomenal Joanna Frankel, The String Quartet produced an inspired and artistic performance of this entertaining piece.

The second item on the programme was a work entitled Drumming by American Minimalist composer Steve Reich. This intriguing composition was performed by the KZNPO percussionists, Stephane Pechoux, Jorge Renes Lopez, Joshua Kim and Thando Nkangana.

With absolute accuracy, the percussionists created a tapestry of slowly changing rhythms which ultimately came to a dramatic and crashing finale.

British/American composer David Bruce was influenced by the gumboot dancing he heard and saw in South Africa to compose his work entitled Gumboots. The first movement is a beautiful, slow and descriptive piece which evokes a sense of Africa. Thereafter, there are five movements based on the tempos of gumboot dances.

The String Quartet were joined by an excellent Annelize De Villiers on the clarinet for the performance for this innovative and enjoyable work.

The Rhodes Chapel is a bit of a conundrum as a performance venue. It is visually attractive and has a very suitable acoustic. However, the audience’s sightlines to the performers are poor and the pews are very uncomfortable. It can also be pretty chilly when the weather is not at its best. These factors could have been partly responsible for the poor attendance at this concert.

Nonetheless, it was a performance of great skill and musicality by all the members of the KZNPO Chamber Ensemble and the result was a concert out of the top drawer and brought to an end a very successful visit to the National Arts Festival. – Keith Millar

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