Classical Moments of virtuosity

Moments of virtuosity

Two young South African musicians with emerging international careers, Ben Schoeman (piano) and Anzel Gerber (cello), presented a recital that exhibited interpretative maturity and an extraordinary level of performance finesse.

Ben Schoeman performs a piano recital in the Rhodes Chapel. Tuesday 2 July 2013. Schoeman chose Robert Schumann’s large-scale piano work Kreisleriana Op. 16 as the centrepiece of his recital. (Photo: CuePix/Mia van der Merwe)

In Rachmaninoff’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor these two performers merged into a single performance unit as their complete absorption and identification with the music’s inner core allowed the soul of Rachmaninoff’s creation to emerge.

Gerber and Schoeman demonstrated complete understanding for this style, and their surging climactic points juxtaposed with reflexive moments of sheer beauty demonstrated their oneness with Rachmaninoff’s compositional idiom.

Throughout the Andante movement, through each lovingly presented phrase, Gerber portrayed Rachmaninoff’s representation of Russian melancholy. with poignant evocation.

In Schoeman’s hands the complex, thickly textured piano part unfolded with apparent ease, as moments of sheer virtuosity were presented with an astonishingly passionate outpouring of emotional intensity.

Gerber was an equal partner as this fervent conversation evolved, and their marvellous characterisation and excitingly placed thematic interjections during the Allegro scherzando deserve special mention.

Czech composer Bohuslav Martin’s Variations on a Theme of Rossini received a scintillating performance, with Gerber and Schoeman compelling rapt attention from the audience – especially during the concluding climax that revealed a phenomenal sense of ensemble between both performers.

In this work Gerber demonstrated flawless technical brilliance and control, with her command over unwaveringly secure intonation particularly evident.

Schoeman revelled in the score’s virtuosic, bravura setting where his unparalleled digital accuracy was transformed into remarkable artistic characterisation.

The recital opened with Richard Strauss’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in F major where Gerber immediately impressed with her ardent response to the score, elegiac phrasing, and abundantly rich, expressive vocabulary.

Each sonic facet in her wide, dynamic palette was securely transported throughout the venue – Gerber is an artist with superlative facility in communicating musical ideas.

From the outset Schoeman’s warm, velvety and limpid cantabile tone was to the fore, with the thematic material developing effortlessly in his hands.

His dazzling execution of fugato passages in the Allegro con brio movement were particularly unforgettable.

In thematic conversations with Gerber, however, he was too subdued and I had the impression that Schoeman performed as an accompanist and not as an equal partner.

Fortunately, after this work, Schoeman’s visible recognition of the music’s intensity amply translated into passionately directed and energised music-making.

Poppler’s Elfentanz, a technical tour-de-force for the cellist, concluded this recital.

Gerber demonstrated complete control and mastery as her projection of musical ideas, while wading through the work’s plethora of multitudinous notes, verified her magnificent musicianship.



Jeff Brukman

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