A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

music
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

FRIENDS OF MUSIC: JAN GOTTLIEB JIRACEK (article first published : 2006-02-16)

As his name suggests, Jan Gottlieb Jiracek is of German-Slovakian origins, and he treated the Friends of Music audience at the Durban Jewish Centre to a piano recital of staggering virtuosity and authentic musical insight.

He is 32 years old, is now based in Vienna, and has an imposing curriculum vitae, including a testimonial from the master pianist Van Cliburn. All the compliments are fully justified. In a programme ranging from Bach to Liszt, he demonstrated not only a brilliant keyboard technique but also impeccable musical judgment, plus an ability to engage the audience by way of informal comments on the music.

This kind of audience involvement is an excellent idea, and I am surprised the more soloists do not do it, but then perhaps they are not all as articulate as Mr Jiracek. His remarks on Bach’s Chorale Prelude in F minor, transcribed by Busoni, a 1788 Haydn sonata, and Liszt’s Ballade in B minor were all very much to the point.

The first notes of the Bach, poised and controlled, showed that we were listening to an unusually gifted performer. The Haydn was a model of crystal clarity in the rapid passages, and the Liszt provided full scope for the pianist’s remarkable technical prowess: thundering octaves, surging left-hand passages - to suggest the stormy seas of the Hellespont (in modern Turkey), through which Leander swam to visit his lover Hero - and, towards the end, the impassioned lower register melody, Liszt’s version of true love.

Schumann’s Fantasie in C major Op. 17, one of the supreme romantic compositions of the nineteenth century, completed the programme. Written when the composer was 27 years old and deeply in love with his future wife Clara (a love that was frustrated at the time by her father’s objections), this three-movement work is one of Schumann’s finest compositions. Jan Gottlieb Jiracek captured admirably the passionate and rather mysterious quality of the opening Allegro, the vigour and brilliance of the second movement, and the poignant chordal progressions of the final Andante, aptly described by the pianist as “crying out for Clara”.

For an encore, his comment was: “If music be the food of love, play on …. What more appropriate music for Valentine’s Day than Liszt’s Liebestraum?” (love’s dream), and this was followed by a very superior performance of this very familiar piece. And then a little playful Mozart brought this memorable recital to an end.

The evening’s Prelude Performer, funded by the National Lottery, was the Durban baritone Bulelani Madikizela, who studies with Colleen Philp. Accompanied by Andrew Warburton, he sang Gershwin, Verdi and Mozart and displayed a big, powerful voice with a fine sense of drama and emotion. He is already quite an experienced singer, and in time he will no doubt go much further. - Michael Green




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart