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Monday, September 18, 2017


Three exhilarating works and top-class performances from all three musicians. (Review by Keith Millar)

This rather unusual combination of instruments was brought together for a recital in the Hilton College Chapel at the Hilton Arts Festival this year.

The musicians responsible for this were South African concert pianist Andrew Warburton and married couple Violetta (violin) and Sorin (horn) Osorhean, who were born in Romania but are now members of the esteemed KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The recital comprised three exhilarating works and provided top-class performances from all three musicians.

Warburton started the programme with a solo piano performance of a set of six Bagatelles, Op126 by Ludwig van Beethoven.

These Bagatelles were published in 1825, rather late in the composer’s career. In fact, they were the last pieces for piano that he wrote. Beethoven declared them to be the best he had ever written.

Typically, a bagatelle is a short piece of music usually based on traditional origins. They are often regarded as a trifle or a trinket. Beethoven’s, however, are more complex than that and display all the rich colour, drama and authority one expects from this composer.

Warburton, after a bit of a slow start (it was a cold day in Hilton) warmed to his task and did great justice to these exciting pieces.

Violeta Osorhean joined Warburton for the second work on the programme which was Beethoven’s much loved “Spring” sonata for Violin and Piano, Op 24. This is the grandest and most popular of Beethoven’s violin sonatas. It is an enchanting, lyrical and radiant work which lives up to its nickname by being constantly sunny and cheerful.

Osorhean and Warburton performed this exquisite work with grace, skill and sensitivity.

Sorin Osorhean joined the other two for the final item on the programme. The Trio for Piano, Violin and Horn Op. 40 by Johannes Brahms.

This one of very few works that has been written for this combination of instruments. It is a vivid piece of music, pastoral, dashing and elegant. The poignant slow movement serves as a memorial to Brahms’ mother who had passed away a while before.

Once again, the musicians did not disappoint and they put in a majestic performance of this exciting and interesting music.

The Hilton College Chapel, despite having an acoustic suited to classical music, is an uncomfortable venue. The side-on seats are hard wooden pews. The result is that both the necks and rear ends of the audiences suffer.

Besides that, there appears to be a meeting place for young festival goers immediately outside the Chapel. The resulting extraneous noise and excitement can be quite disturbing - especially during quitter passages of music.

Despite these factors, and entering the spirit of the festival, this was an excellent recital. It offered some well- known and well-loved music as well as something which was new and exciting to most of the audience. The musicians certainly deserved the sustained standing ovation they received at the end. – Keith Millar