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Friday, April 6, 2018


(Andrew Warburton. Photo by Val Adamson)

Bravo in delivering such a rewarding evening of music. (Review by William Charlton-Perkins)

The South African Society of Music Teachers launched its Centenary Conference in Durban with a gala concert, presented in association with UKZN's School of Music, at Howard College Theatre last evening (April 5, 2018). At the helm of the evening's stellar music-making was pianist Andrew Warburton, who curated and performed a richly varied programme of music by Beethoven, Brahms and Ravel.

Warburton opened with a superb account of Beethoven's taxing Six Bagatelles Opus 126. Combining the deep tonal palette for which he is celebrated with mercurial responses to the ever-changing mood swings that typify late Beethoven, Warburton brought to life the miraculous microcosm of a lifetime's musical outpouring contained in the great German composer's final music he wrote for solo piano.

Shifting into collaborative mode, the pianist was joined by Vanessa Tait-Jones who proceeded to enchant the audience with a fresh-voiced rendering of Brahms's eight Zigeunerlieder Opus 103. Informed by her engagingly gamine stage presence, and the glossy vocal patina of her beautifully produced lyric soprano, Tait-Jones's performance was enriched by Warburton's natural affinity for Brahms, and by his refined expertise in partnering a colleague in performance which has long earned him the status of a preferred accompanist for the UNISA international singing and music competitions in Pretoria.

Such artistic prowess was further in evidence in the vast and disturbing scapes of the two-piano version of Ravel's La Valse. This saw Warburton being joined onstage by pianist Christopher Cockburn, who was magnificently on form in the hair-raising first piano part.

The evening concluded with a rare encounter with Brahms' sublime masterpiece, the Trio for Piano, Violin and Horn Opus 40. The work runs an enormous emotional gamut, ranging from jocund exuberance and puckish sprightliness in its second and fourth movements, to moments of profound, elegiac reflection in its sombre third movement. The technical command and relaxed confidence which Warburton, joined by his colleagues, Violeta Osorhean (Violin) and Sorin Osorhean (French horn), brought to bear in surmounting its challenges, earned the three musicians a well-deserved ovation.

Bravo in delivering such a rewarding evening of music. - William Charlton-Perkins