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FRIENDS OF MUSIC: CARLO GUAITOLI (article first published : 2004-10-27)

This young Italian pianist gave a glittering virtuoso performance when he played for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre on October 26.

The first half of his programme was devoted to the music of Frederic Chopin, and indeed there was something Chopinesque about his appearance and his manner at the keyboard. The first two items, two of the lesser known Nocturnes, provided some of the best playing of the evening, when virtuosity was curbed by an expressive romanticism.

In the first, the C minor Nocturne of Opus 48, Carlo Guaitoli produced a lovely cantabile tone, as he did later in the Andante Spianato which precedes the Grande Polonaise Brillante, Op 22. The authentic virtuoso came to the fore in the F minor Ballade, Op 52, an introspective and advanced work which is far superior to the Polonaise. The Polonaise was taken with breathtaking speed and panache. Fine playing by any reckoning.

After the interval Guaitoli moved into the twentieth century with three Preludes by Astor Piazzolla and the well-known Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. Piazzolla, who died in 1992, was an Argentinian who, like Gershwin, successfully bridged the gap between popular and classical music. He was the king of the tango. Piazzolla’s specialty was the bandoneon, a kind of accordion, and its sounds are reflected in his music, as are the rhythms of the tango. These three preludes, written when the composer was 75, are exceptionally interesting and attractive pieces, serious in intent and full of novel effects. The pianist gave a totally convincing interpretation and did all of us in the audience a favour by introducing us to this music.

The Rhapsody in Blue was …. well, the Rhapsody in Blue, sounding a little tired these days in spite of Guaitoli’s brilliant performance.

The evening’s Prelude Performers, funded by the National Lottery, were four young players from the University of KZN: Laura Jarvis (piano), Johan Kohler (bassoon), Fia Futre (oboe) and Kara Olsen (violin). They were very good in works by Beethoven and Telemann. It may be a bit invidious to single out two of them, but I would be surprised if we did not hear more, in the fullness of time, of the oboist Fia Futre and the violinist Kara Olsen. - Michael Green




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