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FRIENDS OF MUSIC: GENEVA BRASS QUINTET (article first published : 2008-02-28)

This must be the most unusual concert the Friends of Music have presented for a long time. It is a fair bet that most of the sizeable audience in the Durban Jewish Centre had never before heard a brass quintet (not counting Salvation Army bands). And they seemed to enjoy the experience, although some had reservations.

The quintet consists of five young Swiss players of brass instruments who met while studying at the Geneva Conservatory of Music. Their instruments are trumpet, cornet (similar to a trumpet), horn, trombone and tuba and they are all obviously highly expert performers. The players are, respectively, Samuel Gaille, Lionel Walter, Christophe Sturzenegger, David Rey and Eric Rey.

Two problems arise with a concert of this kind. The repertory for brass quintet is obviously limited. And five brass instruments make an imposing sound but it is more or less unvaried and can be a trifle wearying to ears attuned to symphony orchestras.

The five players here were without question technically excellent, and they did achieve quite a range of tonal effects in a mainly unfamiliar programme. This included a little gentle Brahms; arrangements of Bizet (Carmen) and Rossini (the last part of the William Tell Overture); contemporary works by Etienne Crausaz, a young Swiss composer who specialises in music for wind instruments, and Jean-Francois Michel, a French composer of the same type; and an interesting three-movement work by a Cape Town composer, Allan Stephenson.

The Quasi Ragtime which ended Allan Stephenson’s composition brought forth some brilliant fast playing and an excited ovation from the audience. An interesting and enjoyable concert.

The evening’s prelude performer was 17-year-old Sharon Chung from Northlands Girls’ High School, who played piano pieces by Debussy and Chopin. - Michael Green

(The Geneva Brass Quintet will perform with the KZN Philharmonic on February 29. See separate article)




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