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Wednesday, December 18, 2019


A warm tone, clear enunciation, a confident volume, a pulsating resonance and strength - these characteristics define I Grandi Tenori. (Review by Dr Martin Goldstein)

The final Friends of Music concert of this year, which took place on December 17, 2019, comprised a Christmas Music Extravaganza featuring I Grandi Tenori, Le Canta Rose (sopranos Dorh Mfayela, Avuya Ngcaweni and Sanele Mavundla and mezzo-soprano Bulelwa Msane), Phindile Cele (mezzo-soprano), Mbali Zondi (soprano), Sbani Mwelase (baritone), Ruben Mbonambi (bass) and Sanele Mkhize (accompanist).

I Grandi Tenori, comprising two of our province’s finest tenors, Kananelo Sehau and Mlindi Pato, is a highly commendable venture which empowers and uplifts talented vocalists. They, in turn, are most grateful for the generous support they receive from their alliance partners, namely KZN DAC, KZN DoE, eThekwini Municipality, ILAF, Diemersfontein Wine Estate and Kumisa.

The opening number, The Lord’s Prayer, featuring I Grandi Tenori and Phindile Cele (soprano), was one of the highlights of the concert. The accompanist, Sanele Mkize, is self-taught and has a fine, gentle touch and a sympathetic approach to accompanying. A suitably slow tempo was chosen and the mood was sincere.

Panis Angelicus, sung by Kananelo, was truly beautiful. Where Ever You Walk, performed by Sbani Mwelase (baritone), was heartfelt. Nella Fantasia, performed by Le Canta Rose, featured beautifully soaring voices. How Beautiful are the Feet, performed by Phindile Cele (soprano), was truly lovely.

Core’ Ngrato, performed by I Grandi Tenori, was imbued with a warm tone, clear enunciation, a confident volume, a pulsating resonance and strength. These characteristics define I Grandi Tenori. Infelice!...e tuo credevi, performed by Ruben Mbonambi (bass), displayed the great depth of his voice. One sensed that he was reflecting on the narrative and conveying the underlying emotion accordingly.

Amor ti vieta, performed by Mlindi, saw him performing at a higher pitch than his usual range. His performance was characterized by a very pure sound quality. The Prayer, performed by Mbali and Kananelo, was invested with much feeling. Both vocalists were in tune with each other and produced a lovely duet together.

In Oh Danny Boy, one sensed that Sbani was truly communicating as opposed to merely performing. You’ll Never Walk Alone, performed by Dorh and Mlindi, featured a good ensemble with natural dance moves and a pleasing alternation between English and Zulu.

In Lagrimas Mias, performed by Avuya, the sound was just right - cultivated but not too much so. In Nessun Dorma, performed by I Grandi Tenori, the juxtaposition of entries was well-judged, both in terms of volume and tone.

The first four items after interval were performed by I Grandi Tenori.

In Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel, Kananelo showed that he was a good leader. Mlindi maintained restraint and produced good contrasts without being too extreme. The performance featured lovely trembling pianissimos. In What Child is This, the performance grew dynamically and had a good forward drive. In We Three Kings, the performance was rhythmically very together. Mlindi displayed a richness of tone and Kananelo displayed attention to the enunciation of the syllables. In Away in a Manger, the two revealed their full strength and worked together as an ensemble to convey an understanding of the narrative.

Oh Holy Night, performed by Le Canta Rose, was heartfelt and evidenced a sincere belief. The mezzo-soprano, Msane, added her special touch.

The rest of the programme was performed by an ensemble of all of the vocalists. In Silent Night, the performance had a relaxed tempo and a tranquil air. Angels We Have Heard on High was characterised by jovial playfulness and a lovely bounciness. There was some beautiful counterpoint. Hark the Herald Angels Sing had an optimistic air and was heartfelt. Oh Come All Ye Faithful was marked by much sincerity. The chords were shaped with skill and there were excellent canonic responses and a committed “attack”. In this work, Mlindi really came to the fore.

The final work of the programme, Joy to the World was marked by an emphatic “stomp”. Le Canta Rose kept things frothing.

The encore, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, was a suitably joyful end to the concert and brought the house down with a staggering volume and sentiment of goodwill for the coming year. – Dr Martin Goldstein