Friends of Music Recitals 2019



23 July 2019 - James Oesi

Oesi can be described as being a true artist in his evocation of mood.
[Review by Dr. Martin Goldstein]

The Friends of Music recital on 23 July, 2019, featured the internationally renowned double bassist James Oesi accompanied by highly accomplished pianist Andrea Vasi. Throughout the program, they revealed their considerable knowledge of the repertoire in the informative introductions which they gave to the pieces. Vasi managed some very challenging accompaniments. Together, they showed how such contrasting instruments can become one in an act of artistic collaboration.

Oesi performed Psy by Luciano Berio (1925-2003), Sonata in A major for violin and piano by César Franck (1822-1890), Violin sonata no. 4, HWV 371, by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), Kaddisch from the Deux Mélodies Hébraïques by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), Poucha Das by Francois Rabbath (1931-), Clair de Lune from Suite Bergamasque by Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and Czárdás by Vittorio Monti (1868-1922).

In the Berio, Oesi revealed his great passion as a performer. He had excellent intonation and produced a lovely vibrato. He can be described as being a true artist in his evocation of mood.

Franck’s Sonata in A major for violin and piano was composed in the summer of 1886 and was dedicated to Eugène Ysaÿe, a Belgian violinist, conductor and composer, as a wedding present.
Ysaÿe performed the work at his own wedding and later made the work famous. Oesi performed the work in a convincing fashion on the double bass making it sound as though this piece were written for the instrument. The finale, Allegretto poco mosso, is a type of rondo in which Franck’s famous theme appears as a canon at the octave.

In the Handel, Oesi pulled off a considerable feat performing a challenging violin work on the double bass. In the Larghetto, his expressive touch really came to the fore.

In the Debussy, Oesi’s brought out the melody on the double bass far more effectively than a solo pianist ever could.

The Rabbath, dedicated to the famous sitar player, Ravi Shankar, evokes the sound of this instrument. This Eastern sound was interwoven with a more Western melody. Oesi performed this challenging work with incredible virtuosity.

In the Ravel, Oesi displayed such a feel for the Jewish idiom and he really put his soul into it.

The Monti showcased the double bass at its best in the Latin genre and Oesi revealed his incredible agility in the higher register.

The Prelude Performer, Molly Dzangare (Soprano), accompanied by Bobby Mills, put on a breathtaking performance. She performed Handel’s Tornami a vagghegiar from Alcina, Puccini’s Quando men vo from La Bohème and Vissi dárte from Tosca. The Handel was never harried and showcased her incredible high notes and trills. She revealed a competent understanding of the Italian libretto. In the Quando men vo, she displayed considerable strength and richness. In the Vissi dárte, she revealed her ability to sing in a contrasting genre. Her performance throughout had remarkable strength and reserve. – Dr. Martin Goldstein

Dr. Martin Goldstein


25 June 2019 - KZNPO Ensemble

In general, the ensemble displayed a pleasing understatedness.
[Review by Dr. Martin Goldstein]

The Friends of Music recital on 25 June, 2019, featured the much acclaimed KZNPO ensemble, which includes the renowned Kerimov trio consisting of Elena Kerimova on the violin, Boris Kerimov on the cello and highly acclaimed local pianist Christopher Duigan along with other respected instrumentalists, namely David Snaith on the viola, Yura Litvinenko on the double bass, Kirsten Sayers on the clarinet, Sorin Mircea Osorhean on the horn and Charl van der Merwe on the bassoon. They performed the Piano Quintet in A Major, D 667 “The Trout” by Franz Schubert (1797-1828) and the Septet for Strings and Woodwinds in E-flat, Op. 20 by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).

Schubert’s “The Trout” was composed in 1819, during or soon after his visit to the small town of Steyr in Upper Austria. In the KZNPO Ensemble’s performance of this work, the pianist’s touch was highly cultivated and he is to be commended on his excellent octave work at speed in the right hand, which must certainly have been a challenge throughout much of the work. While it can be said that each instrumentalist was truly independent and had an autonomous “voice”, as an ensemble, they merged
well together. It was clear that there was very good communication between the cellist and violinist couple and also between the piano and violin in the relevant passages. There was a vivaciousness to the playing, particularly on the trills and running scale passages, which brought to life the image of a trout swimming freely in a pond. In general, the ensemble displayed a pleasing understatedness.

Beethoven’s Septet was finished in the spring of 1800 and was received with great enthusiasm. Indeed, the audience’s reception of the KZNPO Ensemble’s performance was no different two hundred years later. The clarinetist can be described as playing in a jovial, clear and confident fashion. The interplay between the clarinet and the bassoon was most pleasing and the ensemble as a whole held together nicely. In the final movement, Andante con molto alla Marcia - Presto, the horn displayed henomenal
radiance and the different parts worked well in tandem. The violin’s cadenza in this movement was the highlight of the concert.

The Prelude Performer, Menzi Mngoma (Tenor), performed an interesting range of works consisting of La donna E Mobile, from Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi, You Raise me up by Rolf Løvland (Secret Garden) and You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel by Rogers and Hammerstein. It was clear from the outset that he was well trained and at the same time thoroughly unpretentious. He had a pleasing rich tone and resonance. In La Donna e Mobile, he displayed a lovely light intonation and his body language suggested a good understanding of the Italian dialogue. You’ll Never Walk Alone was his best number and he displayed wonderful poise and diction along with an impressive dynamic range and palette of tone colours. He had great reserve on the long notes and it is clear that he is fully capable of filling an opera house with his excellent voice. He should be given this opportunity in the near future.

Dr. Martin Goldstein

4 June 2019 - Phillip Richardsen (Piano)

Review by Martin Goldstein
Friends of Music's recital on June 4, 2019, featured internationally-acclaimed concert pianist, Phillip Richardsen who performed Joseph Haydn’s Sonata in E-flat major,
Hob. XVI/49, Percy Grainger’s Colonial Song, Sergei Lyapunov’s Transcendental
Etudes, op. 11, no.’s 6 and 10, Edvard Grieg’s Suite From Holberg’s Time, Pyotr
Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Suite The Nutcracker” and Franz Schubert’s Impromptu, op. 90,
no. 4.

Phillip Richardsen had great presence and excellent articulation. He displayed a
lovely touch and produced a shimmering tone. His playing was characterized by
great restraint and he was never overbearing, displaying a depth of dignity in his
playing which is seldom seen in other pianists. Richardsen can be described as
being ever calm and composed. Also, his great stamina was evident throughout.

Possible criticisms include a lack of dynamic variation and also a lack of clarity in the pedalling. Nevertheless, in terms of his touch on the keyboard, he demonstrated the ability to adjust his sound from crisp to rounded. The Grainger was a courageous
choice and displayed Richardsen’s understanding of a broad range of genres. He
created a lovely kaleidoscope of sounds, painting a convincing sound picture.
Perhaps, on occasion, it could be said that this picture lacked coherence. However, at all times, his playing was very controlled.

With regards to the Lyapunov, the first movement, no.6 of the Transcendental
Etudes, op. 11, it could be said that this was not exactly his genre. Nevertheless, he displayed wonderful agility and stamina. Richardsen must be commended on his excellent octave work in the right hand. In the next piece, no. 10, he revealed a wonderful knowledge of the repertoire through describing some of its features to the audience. This movement really suited his crystal clear touch and his incredible agility. He also cultivated a sense of the Slavic genre, achieving a wonderful soundscape of tone colours.

In the first movement of the Greig, Richardsen achieved a lovely, poignant singing
tone as the movement progressed. In the G minor movement, he made a
considerable effort to affect a good sound quality and this is highly commendable. It could be said that in this movement, he was really listening to the quality and the timbre of the sound which he was producing. In the subsequent movement in G major, he displayed wonderful agility and a delightful interplay between the hands.

In the Tchaikovsky, Richardsen really captured the sound of the glass harmonica at
the beginning of the movement in the upper register of the piano and his wonderful, light touch really came to the fore. In the third movement, his clarity of playing combined with his sense of timbre was ultimately united.
In the Schubert, one felt as though Richardsen had entered into the composer’s

The Prelude Performer, Avuya Ngcaweni, can be commended on her vocal clarity
and the precision of her vocal pitching. She performed Lágrimas mías from El anillo de hierro by Miguel Marqués, S'altro che lacrime from La Clemenza di Tito by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ella a fui la tourtelle from Les Contes d'Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. She also had a mature interpretation of the sentiments inherent in the various time periods. Possible criticisms include a lack of dynamic variation, a diminished quality of vocal timbre in the higher register and the need for slightly more graceful phrasing. However, overall, Ngcaweni displayed very good voice control.

With the Offenbach, she seemed to be most at home with this genre and
demonstrated a good understanding of the narrative of the song.

– Martin Goldstein