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FOM CONCERT: JEROME PERNOO & JEROME DUCROS (article first published : 2005-11-3)

The two Jeromes from France, Jerome Pernoo (cello) and Jerome Ducros (piano), have been regular visitors to Durban in recent years and have given great pleasure with their remarkable artistic partnership.

The audience for this Friends of Music performance at the Durban Jewish Centre were not disappointed. The programme was a recital of rarities, and the performersí high skills and total involvement with the music were clear from start to finish. The opening item was Beethovenís set of 12 Variations on Ein Madchen, Op. 66, the theme being an aria from Mozartís The Magic Flute. This is a fairly early work in spite of its quite late opus number. The tune is Mozartís, but the music is unmistakably Beethoven, full of bold strokes and dramatic contrasts. Most enjoyable.

Beethoven wrote five excellent sonatas for cello and piano, one of them (Op. 69, in A major) a masterwork, but for some reason the two Jeromes chose to play an arrangement, by Carl Czerny, (Beethovenís pupil and a compulsive arranger of other peopleís music), of a violin work, the celebrated Kreutzer Sonata, Op. 47.

Perhaps they thought this was more of an attraction for the audience. It was certainly a novelty, but whether the transcription is a total success is debatable. The cello is a noble instrument but it does not have the crystal clarity and agility of the violin in the upper register and this was quite apparent at times, especially in the tumultuous fast passages of the first movement and the rapid repeated notes in the second variation of the slow movement. Be that as it may, the playing was predictably expert and much to the taste of the audience.

These artists are very much equal partners. Jerome Pernoo is a cellist with a lovely tone and a passionate, vigorous approach to music, and Jerome Ducros is a pianist of the first rank, with an immaculate technique and a fine sense of dynamics and tempo.

Griegís infrequently heard Sonata in A minor, Op. 36 gave both performers plenty of opportunity to display their full range of talents. Griegís music is often underrated, and this sonata is evidence of how good a composer he was. It is a big work, mainly lyrical in Griegís Nordic manner but also tempestuous at times, and with many memorable touches, especially the exquisite ending of the slow movement. Again the artists showed their commitment and devotion to the music.

In response to prolonged applause the duo gave a lengthy encore, a typically vivid piece by the Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla.

The Prelude Performer of the evening, funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was 17-year-old Jude Kok from Kearsney College, who showed that he is a promising tenor with a good sense of style and phrasing. - Michael Green




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