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FOM CONCERT: CELLO AND PIANO RECITAL (article first published : 2008-07-27)

Two young women musicians. Polina Burdukova (cello) and Kerryn Wisniewski( piano), gave a rewarding recital when they appeared for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.

In spite of their exotic names, both are South African, though Polina Burdukova was born in Russia and came here with her family when they emigrated to South Africa in 1991. Kerryn Wisniewski was born here.

The repertory for cello and piano is not very large, but it contains much lovely music. These players presented a well-balanced programme consisting of two major works and two lesser-known items.

Beethoven’s five cello sonatas are all fine works, and the last, the Sonata in D, Op.102 No. 2, written in 1815, is a good example of the master’s mature manner, difficult to play and not always easy to listen to, but full of bold ideas and rich subtlety. The two performers gave a convincing account of this concentrated music. Kerryn is a powerful and assertive pianist with an impressive technique and she was matched by Polina’s strong and confident cello playing.

Later in the programme, the performers were able to demonstrate their grasp of form in another big work when they played Grieg’s Sonata in A minor, Op. 36, which must have come as something of a surprise to anybody in the audience who did not know the music. Grieg is one of the most underrated of composers.

A set of Variations on a theme by Rossini by the twentieth century Bohemian composer Bohuslav Martinu proved to be delightful. Martinu, who died in 1959 at the age of 69, wrote music that is accessible and attractive, as is well illustrated by these variations on a typically jaunty Rossini tune. The composition is easy on the ear, with enough dissonances to make it unmistakably “modern” but with a beguiling Bohemian tinge. And it was very well played.

A rarity, Chopin’s Introduction and Polonaise brillante, Op. 3, completed the programme. Chopin is so familiar as a piano composer that many people do not know that he wrote a very good sonata for cello and piano. Here was another work for this duo, written in 1829 when Chopin was 19. As with the much better known Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise, there is an expressive slow introduction followed by a brilliant Polish dance. Our performers played the work with sensitivity and élan.

Enthusiastic applause brought forth an encore, a piece by Boccherini.

The evening’s prelude performer, funded by the National Lottery, was Laura Osorhean, a young violinist. She played the first movement of a Bach concerto, an ambitious choice and one which the audience enjoyed. - Michael Green




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