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FRIENDS OF MUSIC: AVIGAIL BUSHAKOVITZ (article first published : 2005-07-21)

Jerusalem-born Avigail Bushakovitz, a 17-year-old schoolgirl at George in the South-West Cape, is one of South Africa’s most gifted young musicians. Over the past four years she has demonstrated her prowess as a violinist both in concertos and as a recitalist, and she had plenty of scope to display her talents in this performance for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre on July 19.

The long and taxing programme seemed to have been chosen specifically to show her impressive technical accomplishment, and I am sure it would have been equally rewarding to hear her play Bach or Mozart or Brahms. Be that as it may, the large audience thoroughly enjoyed the eight items played, ranging from the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth. Andrew Warburton at the piano made a great contribution, always discreet, sympathetic and skilful.

The recital opened with the Devil’s Trill Sonata by Giuseppe Tartini (1602-1770), an entertaining and melodious composition by a composer who was eccentric, to put it mildly, and who believed (or said he believed) that his main tune had come from the devil.

Then came the Concerto No. 5 in A minor by Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881), which is today the best-known work by this Belgian composer, and Bela Bartok’s Concerto No. 2. The solo piano is not really an adequate substitute for an orchestra, but Andrew Warburton did the job convincingly. The Bartok concerto, written about 70 years ago, is still difficult for many listeners as well as for the violinist but it is a technical tour de force and it has many passages with a haunting quality stemming from Bartok’s deep roots in Hungarian folk music.

Ravel’s Tzigane, a kind of gypsy rhapsody, provided an exotic interlude and an interesting novelty was Variations on a Theme of Paganini by the Cape Town composer Peter Klatzow, a work described in the programme note as “fiendishly difficult”. Yes, it sounded like that, a brilliant and rather perverse composition. Enjoyable, but I can’t see it displacing Liszt’s version of this theme, or Brahms’s, or Rachmaninov’s, in the public esteem.

Dance of the Elves, a virtuoso staccato piece by the nineteenth century Italian Antonio Bazzini, completed the programme.

The concert’s prelude performer, funded by the National Lottery Fund, was 11-year-old Christina Brabetz from Cape Town. She is an exceptionally talented young violinist, and she amused the audience with her energetic lunging to and fro. If she plays in an orchestra when she grows up her fellow violinists may have to dive for cover. But by then, no doubt, she will have calmed down and realised her full artistic capacity. - Michael Green




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