Classical Mozart gets the Goldberg treatment

Mozart gets the Goldberg treatment

Mozart’s Divertimento in E flat major was given a convincing performance by the Goldberg Trio who, in a tightly controlled performance, displayed a thorough understanding of the Classical style. The composer’s very exposed scoring is unforgiving and leaves no place for the performer to conceal the slightest deficiency, especially imprecision in intonation, articulation and ensemble. Notwithstanding these difficulties, the Goldberg Trio achieved a satisfactory blend of performance accuracy and ensemble unity.

The performance
In the opening Allegro, cellist Wessel Beukes impressed with his harmonic pointing and well-directed, musically shaped semi-quaver passages. The Trio demonstrated exceptional control over pianissimo passages, creating a uniform texture devoid of disturbing, intrusive bulging.

The Adagio’s rich harmonic palette and sumptuous homophonic texture, where intertwining thematic interplay adds to the grandeur of the evolving tapestry, received lavish treatment, each player relishing their role in developing the thematic configuration.

During the first Minuet, Mozart’s scoring provided viola player Morkel Combrink with opportunities for creating moments of shining beauty. Combrink’s beautifully carved phrases glowed through the texture. This movement was performed with an infectious gaiety, demonstrating each player’s ability to convey musical characterisation.

The ensuing movement (Andante) was less successfully rendered with, in the early variations, the polyphonic textural interplay unconvincing. A more acute level of critical listening from each performer would have allowed a more translucent texture to evolve. Careful articulation of the opening horn fifth figuration in the second Minuet paved the way for a rumbustious Alpine dance-like rendition. This buoyant reading had rhythmical verve and a good sense of forward propulsion.

Violinist Zanta Hofmeyr shone as she outlined the sublimely optimistic melody that shapes the opening phrases of the final Allegro. Some wayward viola-tuning aside, this movement’s rhythmical impetus propelled the music towards an exciting finale, bringing an inspiring close to this performance. I would welcome with open arms the Goldberg Trio to the 2012 National Arts Festival.

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