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FRIENDS OF MUSIC CONCERT: JUNE 3 (article first published : 2008-06-4)

It seems only a short time ago that Avigail Bushakovitz was a promising young schoolgirl violinist from George, the winner of several youth music competitions.

Now, at the age of 20, she is still a student, at the Juilliard School in New York, but she has matured into an astonishingly mature artist, technically and interpretatively.

This was clear from the opening notes of Bachís Violin Partita No. 2 in D minor, the first item on her programme for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre. Her brother, 22-year-old Ammiel Bushakovitz, a music student in Pretoria, shared the platform with her at the piano, but the Bach Partita is for unaccompanied violin and as such it poses special problems for the performer.

It says much for Avigailís playing that for 15 minutes she kept her audience engrossed in the music. Technical difficulties were overcome with apparent ease, and she displayed an acute insight into the form and content of Bachís music.

Max Bruchís Scottish Fantasy, Op. 46, written in 1880, is a big work for violin and orchestra. The arrangement of the orchestral part for the piano was, I thought, very good, and Ammiel Bushakovitz delivered it with skill and confidence. The violinist showed a full, sweet tone in this mainly lyrical work, which is sprinkled with old Scottish tunes, and her poised and undemonstrative stage presence added to the pleasure of the occasion.

After the interval came Paganiniís Caprice No. 16, a very taxing virtuoso piece for solo violin but musically trivial and, from the pianist, Chopinís well-known Ballade No. 1 in G minor. Ammiel has a highly developed technique but parts of this composition were played too fast. There is some evidence that Chopin himself did not admire speed merchants, and the detail of his music is too beautiful to be lost in a blur of rapid notes.

Prokofievís Violin Sonata No. 2 in D major, first performed in 1944, was given an impressive performance. It is of course modern in idiom but it is reasonably accessible to the ordinary concert-goer. It is an adaptation of an earlier flute sonata by the same composer and it is a substantial work of strong contrasts.

Avigail played with authority and elegance, especially in the melodious slow movement, and Ammiel was at his best in the vigorous and quite flamboyant final movement.

The prelude performer of the evening, funded by the National Lottery, was Claudia Venter of Durban, aged about 19, a capable and promising flute player. Accompanied by Gerhard Geist at the piano, she played a typically interesting and whimsical flute sonata by the twentieth century French composer Francis Poulenc. - Michael Green




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