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Tuesday, March 27, 2018


(James Grace & Morgan Szymanski)

An evening to remember. (Review by Stavros Anthias)

Tuesday’s (March 27, 2018) Friends of Music recital at The Durban Jewish Centre was held in association with Christopher Duigan’s Music Revival. Both associations strive to provide programmes of musical excellence to music-lovers within the province.

Aptly titled Together Again, the recital featured classical guitarists James Grace, from Cape Town, and Morgan Szymanski, from Mexico City, who have been on a national tour, presenting an eclectic programme of Latin music, either written for, or especially arranged for classical guitar. (Music from Spain, Mexico, and Brazil featured) They previously toured the country as a duo in 2015.

The music ranged from compositions by Ferdinando Carulli (1770 - 1841) to modern day composers Celso Machado (b 1953) and Paulo Bellinati (b 1950) Szymanski has personally collaborated with some of the modern composers.

It was such a treat hearing two, classical guitars in such sympathetic unison, each soloist complimenting the other beautifully. They have fine-tuned their collaboration, so that the emphasis seamlessly flowed from one soloist to the other.

Excellent finger-work was the order of the evening, with beautiful tone and colour being abundantly evident from each soloist.

For me, the highlights of the evening were the hauntingly beautiful Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909) which vividly evokes the famous fountains of The Alhambra in Granada, and Danza Española from La Vida Bréve by Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)

The more modern compositions featured interesting strumming and patting of the strings, and the “banging” of the guitars to provide some intricate, rhythmic percussion.

The joy of an evening in the hands of these two accomplished soloists was not only hearing well-known favourites, but to be exposed to new material, and to have one’s musical horizons expanded.

The performers received warm applause from a very appreciative audience, and it was certainly an evening to remember.

The Prelude Performer was Sbani Mwelasi, a baritone with a rich, powerful voice, who gave an impressive performance of arias from Verdi’s Macbeth and Rossini’s Barber of Seville. – Stavros Anthias