Category: Classical

Pianist Joanna Wicherek and soprano Michal Slawecki perform during their recital called Poems, in Grahamstown on 9 July 2015, at the National Arts Festival. The Polish duo has been collaborating for the last eight years and has successfully been performing the most significant Polish contemporary music, written for a male soprano and the piano. (Photo: CuePix/Mia van der Merwe)

From its flyer I am instantly intrigued by Poems. The performers’ faces are halved against a black background that is highlighted in multi-coloured techno lights. It looks like a unique expression of modern classical music. And it is.

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Soprano Magdalene Minnaar and Jose' Dias on piano. Photo: CuePix/Mia van der Merwe

In a programme that drew inspiration from nocturnal music and varying states of darkness, soprano Magdalene Minnaar and pianist Jose Dias explored a wide range of repertoire that exhibited control over a myriad of pianissimo states. While Rachmaninov’s Eti Letniye Nochi and Richard Strauss’s Cäcilie received appropriately sensuous, fervent renditions, most of the programme was situated in dimly lit colours of wavering nightfall.

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Horn soloist, Sorin Osorean performs Alexander Glazuno's Reverie for horn and orchestra as part of the Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra's Gala Concert for the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, Sunday 05 July 2015. The Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by Richard Cock. (Photo: CuePix/Harold Gess)

Directing the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO) through a wideranging programme, conductor Richard Cock showed his expertise in handling varied repertoire. However, it is as an accompanist that Cock excels, and his sensitive leadership of the orchestra through an array of accompaniments created artistic space where each soloist had ample opportunity to showcase their craft.

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Joshua Kim, Thando Nkangana and Boris Kerimov perform in the Kwazulu-
Natal Ensemble Concerto. The programme included works by Maurice Ravel,
David Bruce and Steve Reich. Photo: CuePix/Mia van der Merwe

Presenting a programme of Western art music largely inspired by the cultural mores of Africa, members of the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO) choose to perform music by French composer Maurice Ravel, and two American composers, Steve Reich and David Bruce.

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Soprano Bronwen Forbay  of Lonestar Classical Voices Quartet  by Val Adamson

Presented by the American-based Lonestar Classical Voices Quartet, this lengthy programme produced many musical delights, yet after the long interval it meandered, only recovering its energetic propulsion during the penultimate item with soprano Bronwen Forbay’s glittering performance of Mein Herr Marquis. Executed with technical and musical aplomb, Forbay’s soaring coloratura captivated the full house.

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An audience member is chosen by Richard Cock to conduct during Peter and the Wolf: A children's concert. Photo: Kayla Lidstone

Richard Cock has, once again brought to life the age-old composition originally written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936 – Peter and the Wolf.

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Joanna Wicherek (photo supplied

Polish pianist Joanna Wicherek made her South African debut in the Rhodes Chapel with a recital that featured four Polish composers. An accomplished musician, Wicherek is to be congratulated for introducing contemporary Polish art music to South African audiences, including Paweł Mykieten’s (b. 1971) substantial electro-acoustic composition, Epiphora (1996). An exciting addition to the Festival’s art music repertory, here, an electronically generated sound-track and solo pianist perform simultaneously, and in this instance, certain tones played on the piano are electronically manipulated by the pianist.  

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Piano duettists James Redfern, from England, and Laura Pauna, a Romanian-born South African, presented a programme that explored traditional elements from the canon of Western art music. From the outset their artistic understanding was obvious, Refern and Pauna’s different styles and approaches complementing each other to form an exciting musical union.

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Concert pianist Benjamin Fourie rehearses before his recital, Conflict and Resolution. 
Photo: Hlumela Mkabile

Concert pianist Benjamin Fourie presented a programme of works written between 1988 and 2006 by three South African composers – Etienne van Rensburg, Peter Klatzow and Ilse-Marie Lee – with the intention of drawing parallels between the works presented and philosophical, musical, political and sociological issues present in conflict and resolution. Fourie deserves sincere congratulations for performing this repertoire in public, as the infrequent public reception of South African art music is an ongoing area of concern.

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Review: Chamber Concert

Members of the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO), joined by concert pianist Albie van Schalkwyk, presented two strongly contrasting works from the chamber music repertory

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