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Thursday, November 12, 2015


(Standing: David Smith & Jitske Brien. Seated Claire Hamilton, Geza Kayser & Nigel Fish)

A special pleasure to hear quartets by two great composers. (Review by Michael Green)

We have many fine musicians in KwaZulu-Natal but we do not have very many performances of chamber music. And it was therefore a special pleasure to hear quartets by two great composers in the latest concert of the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.

Music by Beethoven and Schumann was played by the Kayser Quartet, with David Smith at the piano. The quartet consists of Geza Kayser and Jitske Brien, violin; Claire Hamilton, viola; and Nigel Fish, cello. All four are strongly associated with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, and all are outstanding players. David Smith is well known as a chamber pianist and as a music professor at the University of Natal.

Beethoven was represented by the first of his 16 string quartets, the quartet in F major Op.18 No.1, written in 1800. This work has a dark, sad slow movement, said to be based on a scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but it is mainly energetic and bold.

The performance was first-rate, balanced, precise and eloquent.

The other big work on the programme was Robert Schumann’s piano quintet, Op. 44, which dates from 1842 and is the first work ever written for piano and string quartet. This is a wonderfully varied composition, romantic, robust, sombre, lively.

The string players responded splendidly to its many challenges, and David Smith gave an impressive performance in the often complex piano part.

Between these two masterworks the quartet played a composition by David Kosviner, who was born in Johannesburg 58 years ago, lived in Germany for 25 years and is now based in Vienna. The work, entitled Zorniger Frieden, Angry Peace, turned out to be, in my opinion, peculiar and perverse, and void of any discernible melody.

The listeners seemed to be irritated or amused. The performance was no doubt competent, but if there were a hundred wrong notes nobody in the audience would have known.

The Prelude Performer of the evening, funded by the National Lottery Commission, was Shruti Teeluck, a 17-year-old pupil at Northlands. She played western and Indian music on the violin (Grieg) and sitar (a piece composed by her father, Vaishnav Teeluck). In the latter she was accompanied at the tabla drums by her younger brother, Shanjeet Teeluck. Quite a family affair. - Michael Green