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Thursday, October 8, 2015

FOM: OCTOBER 6, 2015

 (Hrachya Avanesyan)

The violinist was brilliant, so was the pianist. (Review by Michael Green)

A programme of masterworks for violin and piano attracted a big audience to the Durban Jewish Centre for the latest concert of the Friends of Music.

Two gifted performers were equal to the considerable technical demands of the music and gave a compelling presentation of its emotional and intellectual content.

Hrachya Avanesyan is a 29-year-old Armenian-born violinist who has built a big reputation in Europe and who won many admirers here in Durban a few weeks ago when he played Carl Nielsen’s violin concerto with the KZNPO.

The pianist in this Friends of Music recital was Pieter Jacobs of Pretoria, one of our best young players. He also has a doctorate in electronic engineering.

The high point of the evening was Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, written in 1803 and dedicated to a virtuoso named Rodolphe Kreutzer who didn’t like it and never played it. It is a magnificent work, long, intense, emotional, lyrical and bristling with difficulties.

Avanesyan and Jacobs gave a splendid performance, and perhaps it should be emphasised that the pianist is an equal partner, not an accompanist. The violinist was brilliant, so was the pianist.

The recital opened with Mozart’s lovely Rondo in C major K.373, and after the interval we had two contrasting works: Brahms’s Sonata No. 1 in G major and Ravel’s Sonata.

The Brahms, which dates from 1879, is typical of the genial warmth of the composer’s later works. The Ravel, written in 1927, is in the composer’s distinctive idiom and has the additional spice of jazz. Ravel was interested in American jazz and the middle movement of this sonata is called Blues.

Its jagged rhythms and sharp dissonances were delivered by the players with great skill and vigour, much to the enjoyment of the audience.

The evening’s Prelude Performer, supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was Nina Kolev, a violinist who is a pupil at St Mary’s School at Kloof. With Laura Rottcher at the piano she showed accomplishment and real promise in music by Beethoven and Max Bruch. - Michael Green