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FRIENDS OF MUSIC: ALEXANDER IVASHKIN & ANNEKE LAMONT (article first published : 2005-09-8)

We have heard several outstanding cellists in Durban in recent years, and Alexander Ivashkin is one of the best, judging by the recital he gave with Anneke Lamont (piano) for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre last night.

Mr Ivashkin is a Russian who is now based in London as a professor of music. The admirable Anneke comes from Pretoria and she created a great impression at her last appearance in Durban. Together these two gifted artists gave a recital of Russian music, most of it unfamiliar, which was much appreciated by the quite substantial audience.

They opened with a work that must be something of a rarity: Anton Rubinsteinís Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 18. Rubinstein, best-known as a piano virtuoso, wrote two cello sonatas between 1852 and 1857. This one, the first, is a dramatic and melodious composition, with hints of Mendelssohn and some rather Brahmsian touches. The writing for both instruments is highly effective. The composer makes full use of the rich sonority of the cello, and the piano part is expertly laid out.

Alexander Ivashkin, a tall, dignified figure, played with great expertise and considerable passion. The first movement of the sonata, an extended Allegro, is grand and declamatory, the second has a tinge of Russian melancholy, and the final movement has a particularly attractive and rhythmical ascending melody. The playing of both performers was first-rate throughout, and the work as a whole was most appealing.

Two pieces from Tchaikovsky followed: an arrangement of the Rose Adagio from The Sleeping Beauty ballet and an unusual little piece called Pezzo Capriccioco, with rapid and brilliant figuration on the cello interspersed with brief passages of pure romantic Tchaikovsky.

The programme was completed with Rachmaninovís Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, Op. 19, one of the composerís finest works, full of the rather melancholy lyricism that characterises most of Rachmaninovís better known compositions. - Michael Green




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