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FOM CONCERT – OCTOBER 14 (article first published : 2003-10-15)

The excellent Odeion String Quartet chamber group, who played in Durban about 18 months ago, provided great pleasure when they gave an all-Dvorak programme with Gerhard Geist at the piano for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.

The quartet is based at the University of the Free State and Gerhard Geist is a former Bloemfonteiner who now lives in Durban. They are all musicians of high quality, and they needed to be in this concert.

Dvorak’s music is easy on the ear but not so easy to play, but the quartet unveiled unerringly the beauties of the long, eloquent and melodious Quartet in A flat Op. 105. Balance between the instruments was first-rate and so were the individual performances.

Nobody plays second fiddle, so to speak, in this outfit. Abrie de Wet and Francois Henkins (violins) obviously lead the way for most of the time but almost as conspicuous are the roles of John Wille (viola) and Michael Haller (cello).

The A flat quartet was preceded by Dvorak’s Four Cypresses, arrangements of four romantic songs by the Czech master, hitherto unknown to me and very attractive in their subdued way.

The high point of the evening was unquestionably Dvorak’s Piano Quintet in A, Op. 81, a splendid, vigorous work which is one of the composer’s best achievements. Here again balance between the instruments was excellent as they showed us Dvorak’s seemingly endless capacity to write good tunes.

I describe this as the high point but the Friends of Music “Prelude Performer”, appearing thanks to funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, almost stole the show. This was a 10-year-old Durban violinist named Jacqueline Wedderburn-Maxwell, small but brimful of confidence as she played three pieces with Andrew Warburton at the piano, of which the best by far was a movement from a concerto by Vivaldi. She has an exceptional technique and musicality for one so young, and with the correct guidance she should go far. - Michael Green




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