Classical Missing the mark

Missing the mark

Beethoven Tango comprises pianist Charl du Plessis and violinist Zanta Hofmeyr, performing a veritable pot-pourri of works. Ranging from Beethoven to tin-pan-alley to songs by Sting, this programme exceeded the advertised time frame by more than fifteen minutes.

The programme opened with Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata, and it soon became apparent that this work has yet to distil for Du Plessis. Incomplete octave passages, rough-hewn ornamentation, uneven semiquavers, tempo retardations to accommodate technical difficulties and textural imbalance, were some of the inconsistencies that marred this reading.

It did, however, reveal some attempt at capturing the appropriate dramatic intensity. Hofmeyr showed an understanding of Beethoven’s style, though she needs to consider textural balance when playing an accompanying role. Her intonation in the upper register, especially during the set of variations (second movement), requires more careful listening and control.

In the Piazzolla offerings Hofmeyer had the measure of the style, with her plaintive rendition of Oblivion generating a tasteful mix of sultry suggestiveness and haunting melancholy. Du Plessis, despite a colourful tonal palette and pyrotechnical arpeggio figurations, missed the mark as an Argentine musician, as this style demands incisive rhythmical and articulation precision within the confines of a structured emotionalism.

Finally, in three jazz standards Du Plessis found his niche as a superior cocktail lounge pianist. His identification with this style of music making was especially apparent in Misty and Blue Bossa. If Hofmeyr is to match Du Plessis’ capriciousness in these works, she needs to cast off her staid classical mantle so as to convey the improvisatory nature of the score.

Three songs by Sting, effectively arranged for piano and violin by Du Plessis, cemented his reputation as a musical arranger. In this programme the works by Piazzolla, as well as the jazz standards, were arranged by Du Plessis for piano and violin, and this is perhaps his primary area of musical expertise.

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