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Friday, September 23, 2016


(Ralitza Macheva, Ralitsa Pechoux, Annamaria D’Andrea & Stephan Pechoux. Pic by Harry Lock)

Jubilant concert filled with upbeat, tuneful and exhilarating music. (Review by Keith Millar)

It was extremely cold and rather damp at midday on Sunday at the Hilton Arts Festival. The small audience at the Hilton College Chapel were well bundled-up against the prevailing weather conditions.

So it was of great credit to the three lady members of the Gypsy Quartet that they dressed in voluminous gypsy skirts and low-cut sleeveless blouses for their concert of Balkan Classical Folk tunes. Their costumes certainly added a theatrical feel to the concert, but I could not help shivering on their behalf.

The ladies in question were all accomplished players from the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra. They were Ralitza Macheva (Bulgaria) on violin, Annamaria D’Andrea (Italy) on viola and Ralitsa Pechoux (Bulgaria) on cello. Joining them was master percussionist, also from the KZNPO, Stephan Pechoux from France.

This new quartet played colourful and exciting selection of music from Balkan composers such as Bartok, Martinu and Vladigerov. It was a jubilant concert filled with upbeat, tuneful and exhilarating music. The musicians showed their skill and talent with an exceptional performance which went a long way to warm up the chilly venue.

Of particular note was the contribution by Stephan Pechoux on a variety of percussive instruments and devices. He used everything from an African drum to rattles, bells, chimes and an instrument which looked a bit like a Weber kettle braai. At one point he even used what seemed to be a Tupperware container filled with water and a kitchen pot – thereby validating the drumming aspirations of generations of toddlers in their mother’s kitchens.

It was a fascinating and quite brilliant performance as he created wonderfully intricate beats and rhythms to go along with the scintillating sounds of the string instruments.

The advantage of having an orchestra in the province is the number of off-shoots there are in the form of smaller groups and solo artists who contribute to the rich tapestry of music available to local audiences. The Gypsy Quartet is a welcome addition to our music scene and it is hoped we will hear a lot more from them. – Keith Millar

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