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Wednesday, June 15, 2016


(Rachel Lee Priday & Bryan Wallick)

An evening of great pleasure. (Review by Michael Green)

Two distinguished performers gave the Friends of Music an evening of great pleasure when, at the Durban Jewish Centre, they presented a connoisseur’s programme of music for violin and piano.

The players were two Americans, Rachel Lee Priday and Bryan Wallick. She was born in Chicago and has a Korean background, he developed his career in the United States and now lives in Johannesburg.

He is well known in Durban as a pianist. She had created something of a sensation a few days earlier when she played a Paganini violin concerto with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.

This time she turned her attention to less spectacular but far superior music. Beethoven’s ten violin sonatas and Brahms’s three are not played in Durban as often as they should be. The omission was remedied by Lee Priday and Wallick with beautiful performances of Brahms’s third, in A major, Op. 100, and Beethoven’s seventh, in C minor, Op. 30 No. 2.

Perhaps it should be emphasised again that in music of this kind the pianist is not an accompanist but an equal partner, as was absolutely clear throughout this programme. Wallick’s powerful and expressive playing matched that of Lee Priday, and they performed with a totally unaffected and intensely concentrated stage demeanour.

They captured the mood of the Brahms work, lyrical, melodious, with underlying strength, and the various moods of the Beethoven, from menacing drama to off-beat humour.

Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 1 in F minor, written in 1946, offered a strong contrast, a lengthy composition, mainly sombre, sometimes gentle, sometimes rough. It was played with great authority and power, with Lee Priday displaying her ability to produce a tone that is never harsh but always penetrating.

Finally we were given a pop piece, the Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy tunes) by the 19th century Spanish violin virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate. It brought the concert to a brilliant end, and the audience gave the players a standing ovation.

The Prelude Performers of the evening, supported by the National Lotteries Commission, were the Northlands Girls’ High School Vocal Ensemble, a well-trained group of nine singers. - Michael Green