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Wednesday, September 9, 2015


(Sharon de Kock, Jeanne-Louise Moolman, Anmari van der Westhuizen & Samson Diamond)

An absolutely outstanding evening of chamber music. (Review by Michael Green)

An absolutely outstanding evening of chamber music was provided by the Odeion String Quartet from Bloemfontein when they played for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.

This quartet was formed 24 years ago at the University of the Free State, and it is the only full-time string quartet at a South African university.

The leader and first violinist is Samson Diamond, who is about 33 and whose background includes musical education in Johannesburg and Manchester, UK, and ensemble music in Soweto. The other players, all South Africans, are Sharon de Kock, violin, Jeanne-Louise Moolman, viola, and Anmari van der Westhuizen, cello.

They all excelled in a programme consisting of two lengthy works by Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. Tchaikovsky’s output of chamber music is fairly small, and his String Quartet No. 3 in E flat minor must have been an eye-opener to many in the Durban audience. It has a complex and varied first movement, a slow movement that is a funeral march for a dead friend, and a vigorously Russian finale.

All of this was presented with great skill, with Samson Diamond a particularly accomplished violinist and an authoritative leader.
Beethoven was represented by the second of his three Rasumovsky Quartets of Op. 59. The name comes from the Russian ambassador to Vienna, who was one of the composer’s supporters. It is a good example of someone who is remembered solely because of his association with Beethoven, others being Waldstein and Kreutzer.

This quartet is one of Beethoven’s many masterpieces in the genre. The Adagio in particular is hypnotically beautiful and is said to have stemmed from Beethoven’s contemplation of the night sky.

The players captured admirably the spirit and atmosphere of this composition. It may be invidious to single out individuals, but Anmari van der Westhuizen’s cello was often admirably expressive.

The audience responded with a standing ovation at the end.
The Prelude Performer of the evening, supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was Arliya Robin Peters, a 17-year-old pupil at Northlands Girls’ High School. She sang three items, accompanying herself at the piano and on the guitar. - Michael Green