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Wednesday, July 24, 2019


(Right: James Oesi)

Oesi can be described as being a true artist in his evocation of mood. (Review by Dr Martin Goldstein)

The Friends of Music recital on July 23, 2019, featured the internationally renowned double bassist James Oesi accompanied by highly accomplished pianist Andrea Vasi. Throughout the programme, they revealed their considerable knowledge of the repertoire in the informative introductions which they gave to the pieces. Vasi managed some very challenging accompaniments. Together, they showed how such contrasting instruments can become one in an act of artistic collaboration.

Oesi performed Psy by Luciano Berio (1925-2003), Sonata in A major for violin and piano by César Franck (1822-1890), Violin sonata no. 4, HWV 371, by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), Kaddisch from the Deux Mélodies Hébraïques by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), Poucha Das by Francois Rabbath (1931-), Clair de Lune from Suite Bergamasque by Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and Czárdás by Vittorio Monti (1868-1922).

In the Berio, Oesi revealed his great passion as a performer. He had excellent intonation and produced a lovely vibrato. He can be described as being a true artist in his evocation of mood.

Franck’s Sonata in A major for violin and piano was composed in the summer of 1886 and was dedicated to Eugène Ysaÿe, a Belgian violinist, conductor and composer, as a wedding present. Ysaÿe performed the work at his own wedding and later made the work famous. Oesi performed the work in a convincing fashion on the double bass making it sound as though this piece was written for the instrument. The finale, Allegretto poco mosso, is a type of rondo in which Franck’s famous theme appears as a canon at the octave. 

In the Handel, Oesi pulled off a considerable feat performing a challenging violin work on the double bass. In the Larghetto, his expressive touch really came to the fore.

In the Debussy, Oesi’s brought out the melody on the double bass far more effectively than a solo pianist ever could.

The Rabbath, dedicated to the famous sitar player, Ravi Shankar, evokes the sound of this instrument. This Eastern sound was interwoven with a more Western melody. Oesi performed this challenging work with incredible virtuosity.

In the Ravel, Oesi displayed such a feel for the Jewish idiom and he really put his soul into it.

The Monti showcased the double bass at its best in the Latin genre and Oesi revealed his incredible agility in the higher register.

The Prelude Performer, Molly Dzangare (soprano), accompanied by Bobby Mills, put on a breathtaking performance. She performed Handel’s Tornami a vagghegiar from Alcina, Puccini’s Quando men vo from La Bohème and Vissi dárte from Tosca. The Handel was never harried and showcased her incredible high notes and trills. She revealed a competent understanding of the Italian libretto. In the Quando men vo, she displayed considerable strength and richness. In the Vissi dárte, she revealed her ability to sing in a contrasting genre. Her performance throughout had remarkable strength and reserve. – Dr Martin Goldstein