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Friday, March 18, 2016


(David Salleras & Christopher Duigan. Pic by Val Adamson)

Two gifted musicians showed what can be achieved with this rather unusual combination. (Review by Michael Green)

The saxophone, invented by Adolphe Saxe, a Belgian, in 1840, is still, I think, regarded mainly as a jazz or military band instrument, but it has a fairly small but impressive classical repertoire, including works by Debussy and Glazunov.

For the latest Friends of Music concert in the Durban Jewish Centre two gifted musicians, David Salleras, saxophone, and Christopher Duigan, piano, showed what can be achieved with this rather unusual combination.

David Salleras is a Spaniard and one of the best saxophonists in the world. Christopher Duigan is very well-known locally and further afield. He lives in Pietermaritzburg, and he is one of the most accomplished, enterprising and energetic pianists in South Africa.

The programme consisted entirely of 20th century music, much of it by Christopher Duigan himself, with one big piece by David Salleras.

Duigan’s compositions for saxophone and piano are imaginative, not too serious but not trivial either. In this concert they included three items from the whimsically entitled Six Pint Sized Pieces: The First Round, Drowning Your Sorrows and Bar-Stool Tango.

Other works by Duigan were Conversations, two of his four Nocturnes, and one of his Four KZN Landscapes, this one depicting Himeville.

These were all highly effective works in a fairly traditional style, with some virtuoso scoring for both instruments (Duigan has had a long musical association with Salleras, and he obviously has a total understanding of the capabilities of the saxophone).

Salleras’s compositional contribution was a brilliant Caprice in F minor for solo saxophone, with rapid arpeggios and the use of a difficult technique called circular breathing, which virtually eliminates breathing breaks by the player.

The rest of the programme was made up of music by the Spanish saxophonist Pedro Iturralde; the Italian composer of much film music Ennis Morricone; the Frenchman Christian Lauba; and the Argentine king of the tango Astor Piazzolla.

An enthusiastic audience gave the players a standing ovation at the end.

The prelude performer of the evening, funded by the National Lotteries Commission, was a remarkable 13-year-old singer, Lasandra Majola. Assisted at times by four comedians she sang popular music with poise and confidence. The recorded accompaniment and her own voice were amplified to a deafening pitch, making it difficult to assess her vocal qualities. But she is obviously a talented young person, and no doubt she will go far. - Michael Green