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18th July 2017 - Trio Esperanza

A combination of flute, cello and piano and a programme of unfamiliar music drew, predictably enough, a small audience to the Durban Jewish Centre for the latest performance for the Friends of Music.

The players are called the Trio Esperanza (it was not quite clear why; Esperanza is Spanish for hope, and there was no Spanish music on their programme).  They are Liesl Stoltz (flute), Polina Burdukova (cello) and Kerryn Wisniewski (piano).  They are all first-class players who have performed successfully around South Africa and abroad.

They opened with the Trio Op. 78, basically a set of variations, by the Austrian composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837), who was in his time a celebrated pianist and composer and is largely forgotten today, except for a Rondo in E flat that has been played by most piano students.

This Trio is a pleasing, melodious work, and it was performed here with high skills and lovely tonal balance of the three instruments.

We moved into the 21st century with a work by Hilary Tann, who was born in Wales in 1974 and now lives in the United States.  She was represented here by an interesting three-movement composition called Gardens of Anna Maria Luisa de’Medici, a musical picture of the gardens in Florence of the last member of the famous Medici family.

The music was modern but rather elegant and not aggressively dissonant.  Again the performance was first-rate, with Liesl Stoltz, a highly accomplished flautist, always prominent.

At this point a previously unannounced item was inserted in the programme:  Notturno Elegiaco by the South African composer Hendrik Hofmeyr.  It was not an easy work to assimilate at a first hearing.

Three Watercolours by the French composer Philippe  Gaubert (1879-1941) were a pleasant novelty for most listeners, impressionistic in style, easy on the ear (although not so easy for the pianist).

The recital closed with the Trio Op. 86 by the Russian composer Nikolai Kapustin (born 1937).  This turned out to be an attractive, jazzy kind of work, performed with virtuoso flourish and verve by all three players.

The prelude performer of the evening, supported by the National Lotteries Commission, was a 14-year-old violinist, Tasmin Hastings.  She is a pupil at Durban Girls’ College and will shortly be moving to Thailand to continue her schooling with the help of a music scholarship. 

She showed good tone and technique in three attractive and quite demanding short pieces.  Bobby Mills was a sympathetic and skilful accompanist at the piano.

---Michael Green (courtesy of Artsmart.co.za)