Classical Music lovers spoilt for choice

Music lovers spoilt for choice

This year’s classical music line-up showcases a proliferation of chamber music ensembles, music honouring international bicentennial celebrations of Franz Liszt’s birth and some solo recitals. Liszt’s piano music features strongly in concert pianist Ben Schoeman’s programming. Schoeman, this year’s Standard Bank Young Artist Music Award winner, will be playing a recital highlighting the rich diversity of Liszt’s piano oeuvre and, later, Liszt’s First Piano Concerto with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra.

These performances of Liszt’s music will be complemented by East London-based pianist, Widor du Toit’s rendition of samples drawn from Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes and Rhodes student Mia Pistorius’ interpretation of Liszt’s Piano Sonata.

Samson Diamond is again at the forefront of introducing Festival-goers to infrequently performed works: Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, premièred in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp (Stalag VIII-A), entwines apocalyptic Biblical references with spiritual optimism in the face of warfare, tyranny and oppression. This performance ought to be essential for all who have an interest in music as an expressive domain.

Futuristic glimpses within vignette episodes are sketched in William Kentridge’s collaboration with François Sarhan, a multi-media blend of artistic expression in Telegrams from the Nose. An assemblage of notable South African performers under the direction of Alex Fokkens will join forces in the performance of this ground breaking post-modern creation.

Performances that offer a glimpse into the world of South African art music are Ben Schoeman’s first recital with his inclusion of Stefans Grové’s politically transformative piano fantasy Nonyana, the Ceremonial Dancer, the Westhuizen Duo’s rendition of Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph’s It Takes Two to Tango and Charl du Plessis’ arrangements of Beethoven’s scores. Sadly, this year the performance of South African art music is unjustifiably muted with many performers relying on traditional fare from the Classic-Romantic continuum.

Charl du Plessis (piano) and Zanta Hofmeyr (violin), appearing in Beethoven Tango, will negotiate a musical kaleidoscope ranging from Beethoven through Piazolla to Sting. Similarly, the Luca Ciarla Quartet will traverse a multiplicity of styles and genres in a programme that includes the music of Bach, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk interspersed with original compositions and references to localised Mediterranean music.

Three other not-to-be-missed ensembles are the Goldberg Trio (much acclaimed during last year’s Festival), the Grahamstown Sextet featuring well-known South African concert artist Catherine Foxcroft (piano), and the D-Seven vocal ensemble.

Appearing on the Fringe are two Rhodes University students Andrew Duncan and Jacques du Plessis in Four Hands, an exploration of time-honoured piano duet repertoire. Mahler 5, a piano duo comprising Dawid Boverhoff and Marga Sander, will be performing a two-piano arrangement of Mahler’s well-loved Fifth Symphony; an event that should not be overlooked by those who appreciate Mahler’s lush harmonies and intricately textured writing. The Affies Orchestra under Floris Smith’s exacting leadership makes an exciting addition to the Fringe programme.

This full line-up of classical music is centred on the first half of the Festival and concert-goers will need to be judicious in their choices as many performances either appear simultaneously or within a short space of each other.

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