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Wednesday, December 23, 2020


(Above: Mlindi Aubrey Pato & Kananelo Timothy Sehau)

I Grandi Tenori reconciled harmonic feeling with a perfect rhythmic impulse. (Review by Dr Martin Goldstein)

The final Friends of Music concert of this year, which took place on December 20, 2020, was the Fourth Christmas Music Extravaganza featuring I Grandi Tenori. They are a vocal ensemble comprising two of KwaZulu-Natal’s finest tenors, Kananelo Timothy Sehau and Mlindi Aubrey Pato. They are ably accompanied by Sanele Bahlebonke Mkhize, who, as a talented and self-taught pianist, is also their production manager. Their managing director, Kwazi Theophilus Mhlongo, opened the concert with a moving tribute to those who succumbed to the current Covid pandemic.

In Ch’ella mi creda, performed by Kananelo, his tone was not overly rich. He had a serious disposition and displayed genuine feeling and understanding of the words. There was a good balance between the piano and the vocalist.

In Lunge da lei, the piano was agile and there was an exciting atmosphere. Mlindi’s vocal ornaments were nicely finished. He displayed good enunciation of the Italian words without excessive vibratoIn Caro mio ben, there was a lovely sense of pathos. Kananelo knew how to be soft but created a detached warmth which was appropriate. The piano displayed a polished touch and responsiveness. There was a good balance in the ensemble and good timing in the vocal part in the key entrances. The vocalist was not showy and his singing was in good taste. He resisted the urge to belt out the climax. This was the highlight of the programme.

In Ideale, performed by Mlindi, the piano anticipated the vocalist, who displayed sensitive singing. The drama was created through the timing.

In Recondita armonia, the pianist demonstrated his cultivated touch and technique. Kananelo produced a good vocal resonance and his strength was not forced. There was a sense of emotion in his singing. He demonstrated his full strength at the climaxes.

In E lucevan le stelle, Mlindi demonstrated his natural ability to brood over the narrative. He is a genuine performer and he does not feel pressured. He has autonomy over the narrative.

You’ll Never Walk Alone was performed as a duo. Kananelo had the finer tone quality while Mlindi had the richer one. The performance evidenced their contrasting timbres. But they came together to create a rich ensemble. Kananelo took his time but was on the mark with his meter.

In It is Well with My Soul, performed as a duo, there was a sensitive delivery of the narrative. The vocalists displayed personal wisdom. In Silent Night, Kananelo demonstrated his inherently middle-ground disposition. His tone was not too rich, his volume was neither too soft nor loud and his timbre neither too sharp nor too mellow. Mlindi delivered the second verse in Zulu, demonstrating strength and balance. Kananelo, singing also in Zulu, demonstrated gentleness and mellowness. The pianist revealed, through his rubato technique, his innate musicality. The ensemble came together to form a homogenous entity despite their contrasting styles of singing and temperaments.

In Away in a Manger, Kananelo revealed his sensitive poise in the phrasing. He sang a lovely descant line.

This was followed by a spontaneous number performed by the pianist, who demonstrated his full palette of touches, revealing both strength and articulation. The audience, consisting largely of their colleagues, other professional musicians, joined in spontaneously to form a beautiful ensemble.

In Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel, the vocalists demonstrated that they understood the idiom. There was another lovely descant harmonization. The performance was sensitive but solemn. Kananelo revealed his sensitivity and Mlindi his strength.

In Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Kananelo revealed his well-trained enunciation. The vocalists in the audience provided the descant in the soprano. There was a reconciliation of harmonic feeling with perfect rhythmic impulse.

In Oh Come, All Ye Faithful, the pulsating resonance for which the tenors are known came through.

In Oh Holy Night, Mlindi demonstrated a different type of sensitivity from that shown by Kananelo. Mlindi’s was warmer. Kananelo had restrained wisdom. The articulation in his slurring was evidence of thorough training. The rubato always resolved on the beat metrically.Oh Little Town of Bethlehem was performed as a piano solo. The pianist displayed careful attention to the details of articulation. He listened to himself and revealed his true musicality.

In Gloria in Excelsis Deo, the articulation was emphatic. It was a carefully constructed ensemble.

In We Three Kings, the pianist genuinely enjoyed himself. All three performers came together to form a unified ensemble. Their timing was excellent.

In Pachabel’s Canon, performed as a piano solo, the pianist revealed the agility in his right hand. His ability to improvise within Pachabel’s harmonic language was impressive.

In A Ray of Hope, the performance was restrained and sensitive.

In Joy to the World, the atmosphere was jovial and the audience of vocalists joined in to form a beautiful ensemble. The tenors led the music and their timing was on the mark.

This was followed by a piano interlude and then We Wish You a Merry Christmas. The audience joined in and there was some lovely soprano singing.

The concert concluded with Nessun dorma. Kananelo lived outside of the performance. He lived above it all. Mlindi demonstrated his incredible strength. – Dr Martin Goldstein

For more information on Friends of Music contact Keith Millar 071 505 1021.