national Arts Festival Banner

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


(Sulayman Human)

Two young SA musicians gave an evening of undiluted pleasure. (Review by Michael Green)

Two outstanding young South African musicians gave an evening of undiluted pleasure when they played for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.

Jacqueline Martens, violin, and Sulayman Human, piano, presented a most attractive programme ranging from Mozart to modern, and did so with high technical skills and artistic insight.

Jacqueline Martens, a tall, elegant 22-year-old, was born in South Africa but has spent most of her life in England. Her grandparents were Belgians who moved to Durban a long time ago.

Sulayman Human (23) is from the Western Cape and has won several performing competitions.

They are an admirable musical partnership. Jacqueline has a virtuoso technique, well displayed in some of the very difficult pieces she played. At the piano Sulayman played with vigour, accuracy and conviction. And the tonal balance between the two performers was first-rate.

They opened with a relatively little-known Adagio in E major, K. 261, by Mozart, a lovely tranquil piece, and followed with another calm and much more famous composition, the Meditation from the opera Thais by Jules Massenet (1842-1912).

We moved to a bigger field with Richard Strauss’s violin sonata, written in 1888, when the composer was 24 and in love with the woman he subsequently married. It is an ardent, lyrical, compelling work, technically demanding, and the players extracted full value from it.

Beethoven’s Sonata in D major, Op. 12 No. 1, dating from 1798, may not be the finest of his 10 violin sonatas but it is nevertheless irresistible music and it provided for me the high point of the evening. The players captured exactly the mood of melodious good humour (and advanced ideas for its time), never more so than in the second variation of the middle movement, with flowing violin and rippling piano.

Something new was provided in a work called Laumereva by the South African composer Hendrik Hofmeyr, who was born in Cape Town in 1857. It is ethnic music, referring to mythical people in Zimbabwe and imitating an African instrument. Written for unaccompanied violin, it bristles with technical difficulties, and these were surmounted with aplomb by Jacqueline Martens.

This exceptional recital ended with an old favourite, the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, written by Camille Saint-Saens in 1863.

The prelude performer of the evening, supported by the National Lotteries Commission, was a soprano, Lungile Cele, a 17-year-old pupil at Northlands Girls’ High School. Accompanied at the piano by Bobby Mills, she displayed a good, well-controlled voice and a pleasant, unaffected stage manner. - Michael Green