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Thursday, March 10, 2016


Virtuoso performances make for an evening of exciting and highly enjoyable music. (Review by Michael Green)

A piano programme ranging from Johann Sebastian Bach to George Gershwin attracted a large audience to the Durban Jewish Centre for the latest Friends of Music concert, and they were rewarded with an evening of exciting and highly enjoyable music.

The pianist was Charl du Plessis of Pretoria, making what was apparently his first concert appearance in Durban. He is a young man who is a gifted musician; he is building a big reputation in the concert hall and he teaches at the University of Pretoria.

As a player he is nothing if not versatile. He opened his programme with the celebrated Chaconne in D minor, written by Bach in 1720 for the solo violin and transcribed for the piano in 1893 by Ferruccio Busoni. A chaconne is a composition rooted in an old Spanish dance and consisting of variations over a constant bass. Busoni’s keyboard transcription of Bach is a massive work bristling with technical difficulties, all of them handled with calm skill by Charl du Plessis, an imposing and powerful performance.

Music by Frederic Chopin followed, one of his longest and best works, the Fantasy in F minor, Op. 49, and the two Waltzes of Op. 64. These were played with insight and elegance, particularly the poetic C sharp minor Waltz of Op. 64, a work with timeless grace and charm.

It was, however, a collection of pieces by George Gershwin that stirred the audience to great enthusiasm. Du Plessis played the well-known Three Preludes for Piano. Then came his own arrangements of three famous songs, The Man I love, Summertime and I Got Rhythm, and, finally, Rhapsody in Blue, arranged for piano by Gershwin with a helping hand from Charl du Plessis.

The pianist gave virtuoso performances of this irresistible music, especially in his playing of I Got Rhythm, and the audience gave him a standing ovation at the end.

The recital was spiced with relevant comments by Charl du Plessis himself, including the information that he had donned his vivid blue jacket to play Rhapsody in Blue. A most engaging and humorous personality.

The prelude performer of the evening, funded by the National Lotteries Commission, was Joshua Stapleton, a 16-year-old pianist from Ballito who played music by Clementi and Grieg. - Michael Green