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FRIENDS OF MUSIC RECITAL: LARA JONES (article first published : 2003-11-20)

The gifted local girl has blossomed into a mature artist, a concert pianist of top rank. Lara Jones of Durban was given a standing ovation by the large Friends of Music audience at the Durban Jewish Centre on November 18 for her outstanding performance of a taxing and varied recital programme.

She has come a long way from her days as a musically talented schoolgirl playing early Mozart concertos and salon pieces by Chopin. More than three years of study in Germany have brought greatly enhanced power, authority and insight to her playing, and in this recital she showed exactly why she has been very highly rated by judges in European examinations.

Chopin was there on the programme, two of the lesser known pieces and the Minute Waltz, a kind of signature tune for Lara. So were Bach, one of the preludes and fugues, with the bass theme beautifully emphasised in the fugue, and Liszt, the celebrated La Leggierezza study, which gives ample opportunity for nimble fingers.

But the big works impressed me most, largely because of the pianistís sense of the architecture and drama of the music. Schubertís Sonata in A minor, Op. 42, is not well known, but it is a lovely work, with plenty of raw power and an irresistibly Schubertian Andante, a simple theme with five variations. The performance could hardly be faulted: technically correct (it is a difficult work, awkward under the hands as Schubertís piano music sometimes is), and emotionally warm and sympathetic.

Likewise Mozartís Sonata in A minor, K. 310, one of the masterís finest keyboard works. The tension of the sonata was admirably conveyed, and again one had the reassuring feeling that the pianist was totally in control, technically and interpretatively.Finally, Prokofievís Sonata No 3 in A minor, written in 1917 and totally modern in manner, brought the recital to a brilliant and satisfying close. Altogether, a night to remember.

The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund has funded the Friends of Music Prelude Performer Programme. The Prelude Performer of the evening was Olga Fadina, a 21-year-old Russian singing student at the University of Natal. She displayed an agile and full-bodied soprano voice of great promise, with a bold and mainly successful go at Rossiniís Una voce poco fa and an entirely convincing performance of a Russian folk song. - Michael Green.




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