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FRIENDS OF MUSIC: AVIGAIL BUSHAKOVITZ (article first published : 2007-03-14)

This Friends of Music recital at the Durban Jewish Centre was very much a family affair. Avigail Bushakovitz is well known here as a brilliant young violinist, now aged 19. On this occasion she was joined by her brothers, Ammiel Bushakovitz (piano) and Benjamin Bushakovitz (guitar), who are close to her in age.

They are all good performers, but there is no doubt that Avigail is the star. Their family home is now in George in the Cape, but all three of them were born in Jerusalem, an interesting reversal of the well-known brain drain from South Africa; this family has been a tap for an inflow of musical talent from Israel.

Playing Bachís four-movement Sonata No 1 in G minor for unaccompanied violin, Avigail showed immediately that the gifted child has now become a mature and confident artist. Bachís genius ensures that there is never a dull moment in 20 minutes of solo violin, and Avigail produced a full, rich tone and an expert technique, especially when she articulated the melodic threads of the second movement fugue.

Avigail was joined by Ammiel in Mozartís Sonata in B flat, K 454. Mozart wrote nearly 40 sonatas for violin and piano, and this is one of the best of them. Ammiel Bushakovitz is an accomplished and nimble-fingered pianist and, predictably enough, there was excellent balance between the two players in this lovely work, especially in the expansive and exquisite slow movement.

Two of Paganiniís notoriously difficult Caprices, for solo violin again, were handled skilfully and successfully by Avigail.

Benjamin Bushakovitz, guitarist, played two solos, an intimate and introspective piece by Albeniz and a lengthy and enjoyable tango by the ArgentineanAstor Piazzola; and the three siblings joined forces in an exciting performance of Grigoras Dinicuís Hora Staccato. This Romanian piece was popularised by Jascha Heifetz 70 years ago and it used to be played with great frequency, but I havenít heard it for a long time. Most enjoyable.

The major item of the evening was Tchaikovskyís Violin Concerto in D major, played by Avigail with Ammiel at the piano. The piano is a poor substitute for Tchaikovskyís brilliant orchestral score, which stands musically in its own right and not as a mere accompaniment to the violin. And as she tackled the formidable challenges of this great virtuoso work Avigail seemed somewhat exposed by the lack of orchestral sound. One of the Beethoven or Brahms sonatas might have been more appropriate.

Be that as it may, the audience were highly enthusiastic, and understandably so. - Michael Green




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