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Tuesday, November 6, 2018


(Erik Dippenaar)

This was an outstanding and memorable recital. (Review by Keith Millar)

The tinkling sounds of the ubiquitous harpsichord is an ever-present accompaniment to most baroque music. It plays the basso continuo part and provides the bedrock which maintains the harmonic structure of the piece and allows other instruments to embellish their parts. 

However, as a solo instrument in the hands of a maestro such as Erik Dippenaar from Cape Town, who performed at the Baroque 2000 concert at the Mariannhill Monastery Church on Sunday (November 4, 2018), it takes on a whole new life. Weaving a shimmering and tantalising filigree of sound, Dippenaar demonstrated this wonderful instrument in all its delicacy and intense gusto.

The reason for Dippenaar’s visit? Well, he was helping Baroque 2000 celebrate the 10th anniversary of the magnificent harpsichord which has been used by them at almost all their concerts for the past decade. Assembled from a kit by master-craftsman Chris Brouckaert and his wife Gloria, it is a superb instrument, both musically and aesthetically.

The entire programme was designed to show off the harpsichord and its place in the world of Baroque music. Starting off with the Allegro movement from the Harpsichord Concerto in G Major by William Hayes. Hayes was Heather Professor of Music at the university of Oxford for 30 years, and a prolific composer.

Dippenaar produced a sensitive and delicate performance of this arresting work, beautifully accompanied by the strings. 

The second item on the programme, George Frederic Handel’s Trio Sonata in E Major, featured two violins and cello and with the harpsichord in its more common role of providing the basso continuo. Once again the ensemble performed excellently in executing this bright and cheerful work.

Next was the Presto (third) Movement of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Italian Concerto. This robust solo harpsichord piece allowed Dippenaar the opportunity to show off his sublime skills on the instrument.

One of the joys of Baroque 2000 concerts is the exposure of entirely new works that have probably never been heard in this part of the world before. The next item, Trio for Two Violins and Two Continua Sections by Pietro Locatelli, fell into this category. Described by Dippenaar as a rather bizarre it was nonetheless highly enjoyable. The second harpsichord (and electronic version) was played by David Smith. The two sections play off against each other and at one point even perform a canon.

The major work at the concert was Bach’s Concerto for Harpsichord in D Minor. This work was written for performance in a student coffee house and was probably transcribed from an earlier violin concerto. It is a marvellous work which allowed plenty of opportunity for Dippenaar to show off his considerable virtuosic skills on the harpsichord.

This was an outstanding and memorable recital. The Baroque 2000 ensemble produced their usual first-rate performance and the soloist was out of the top-drawer. So it was most disappointing to see such a poor turn-out for the event. This is the second time in a week as the KZNPO concert last week was also very poorly attended.

Durban is fortunate to be home to a few classical music gems in the KZNPO, Baroque 2000 and Friends of Music. They deserve all the support they can get.

The next Baroque concert will take place on November 25, 2018, with a performance of Handel’s Ode to St Cecilia’s Day. It will be conducted by Lance Philip and will feature the Durban Chamber Choir and voices from the Wartburg Lutheran Choir and the Free State University Opera School. Soloists will be ElsabĂ© Richter (soprano) and Willem Bester (tenor).

For more information contact Michel Schneuwly on 031 312 5539 or 082 3035241 or – Keith Millar