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Inside the Concert – programme notes with Albert Combrink

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The Cape Town Concert Series presents a recital inspired by the Art Deco period on Saturday 19 March at 11am in the Baxter Concert Hall.
Violinist David Bester along with pianist Jose Dias will perform works by Strauss, Stravinsky, Bartok and Kreisler. There will be no interval, and after the concert the artists will remain in the hall to talk briefly about the music and also answer questions from the audience.
The Baxter restaurant and Bar are open for refreshments before and after in the well ventilated foyer. Masks must be worn at all times in the concert hall.
Tickets are available from Webtickets. R200 and R160 for pensioners. Student tickets for R80
See below for notes about the works being performed, but first –
About the artists:

Award-winning violinist David Bester is active as a soloist, chamber musician and recording artist. He has performed with the Cape Town-, KwaZulu Natal-, Gauteng Philharmonic- and Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestras (ECPO) and regularly plays as a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Namur and the Amici Quartet. As the Concertmaster and Artistic Director of the ECPO, David helps develop and showcase music by local composers. David is passionate about discovering new music and exploring the creative ground where styles and genres intersect.

After obtaining his BMus (cum laude) and MMus (cum laude) in music performance from Stellenbosch University under Suzanne Martens, David furthered his studies in Belgium. Here, he obtained a second MMus (cum laude) from the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp under the tutelage of Alissa Margulis. During his studies, David received master classes from acclaimed violinists Pavel Vernikov, Ivry Gitlis, Barnabás Kelemen, Ilya Gringolts, Priya Mtichell, Daniel Rowland, Frank Stadler, and Jan Repko. These players and pedagogues have influenced his own approach to playing and teaching. David’s studies abroad were made possible by generous grants from the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, National Arts Council of South Africa, as well as the Oranje-bursary awarded by the Dutch Consulate in Antwerp in 2017.

Currently the head of strings at Nelson Mandela University, David supervises postgraduate students. Through the NMUSE group, and regular workshops presented for string teachers, David has invigorated string teaching and playing in the Eastern Cape while creating opportunities for young string players to work closely alongside professional musicians. As a scholar, David’s PhD research focuses on embodiment and how string teachers enact embodied knowledge when they teach. David has won several Creative Output Awards for his artistic research endeavours.

for more information visit www.davidbester.co.za

*****

Portuguese-born José Dias is a regular presence in all major concert halls and Arts Festivals in South Africa. In recent seasons, international performances have taken him to Portugal, Mozambique, Israel, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, including extensive tours of the Netherlands and Germany, with repeated appearances in such historic halls as the Berliner Philharmonie, Münchner Philharmonie, Beethovenhalle in Bonn, Baden-Baden Festspielhaus, among many others.

José is in high demand as soloist, chamber musician and vocal accompanist and coach, and has also been the musical director of Cape Town Operas internationally acclaimed touring productions African Angels and African Passion, as well as Biblioteek Productionsoperatic productions such as Poskantoor, La Voix Humaine and The Recycled Magic Flute. Recently he also wrote new music and took the musical direction of Piekniek by Mpande, a modern day reimagining of the seminal Afrikaans protest cabaret Piekniek by Dingaan as well as the 2019 Fleur du Cap Awards Ceremony, at the Artscape Opera House. These productions and his involvement therein, have made him the recipient of several awards, from festivals such as Woordfees, KKNK, Aardklop, as well as Fiësta and Fleur du Cap Awards.

He was co-creator and curator of the RISE concert series in collaboration with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra – a platform for the display of young SA classical talent – and is also an avid supporter of contemporary music, having premiered several works by composers such as Hendrik Hofmeyr, Alexander Johnson and Conrad Asman. Many of these (some written especially for him) have been recorded and are available on CD.

Programme notes:

Richard Strauss – Violin Sonata in E-flat major, Op. 18

Richard Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) represents the late flowering of German Romanticism. Along with composers like Gustav Mahler, their work pushed the boundaries of the harmonic language, usually expressed in subtly and brilliantly orchestrated large-scale works. Strauss’ tone poems Don Juan, Also sprach Zarathustra, Ein Heldenleben, to name but a few examples, encapsulates this uber-Romantic sound world of lush textures, incredible richness of tone, harmonies that build and release tension on an epic scale, and blazing virtuosity.

The Violin Sonata, composed in 1887 when Strauss was only 23, is simultaneously an example and counter example of this style. ON the one hand, it is an intimate, small-scale, chamber work with the musical material set in standard, abstract forms. On the other hand, however, the same virtuosity and bravado found in Don Juan; the same monumental harmonies heard in An Alpine Symphony; and the same striking and sensitive colours heard in Ein Heldenleben are all present in this youthful work.

The first movement opens in a melancholy tone which, at first, belies the exuberant, buoyant character of the thematic material. Strauss develops this material through freely shifting meters (sometimes with the two instruments playing in different meters) using the typical sonata-allegro form to lend structure to the musical ideas. After episodes of drama, extasy, romantic ardour (the sonata was composed the year that Strauss first met the soprano Pauline de Ahna, whom he would later marry) and tranquillity, the movement comes to a joyful close.

The second movement is a rare gem. The music is meditative and lyrical and quickly transports performers and listeners alike to a different realm. Throughout this andante cantabile, Strauss creates the impression that the violinist improvises the magical moments on the spot.

In the fiery third movement, which begins with a hushed piano prelude before bursting into the spirited main theme, Strauss demands virtuosity from both performers. The thematic material is closely related to that of the first movement. After a mad, ever-modulating, ever-accelerating dialogue between violin and piano, the work comes to an explosive end.

Stravinsky – Suite Italienne

Probably most well-known for his ballet music such as The Firebird and the riot-inducing The Rite of Spring, Igor Stravinsky (17 June 1882 – 6 April 1971) was a pivotal figure in modernist music and one of the most important composers of the 20th century. Stravinsky was notable for his stylistic diversity. His ballet Pulcinella from which the Suite Itallienne was later derived, was the composer’s first Neoclassic composition. It was inspired by (and, to some degree, plagiarised from) the music of eighteenth-century Italians, Giovanni Pergolessi, Domenico Gallo and Carlo Monza’s music. Stravinsky reharmonised these melodies and bass lines with more pungent harmonies and infused it with his characteristic musical wit.

This violin and piano version of Suite Italienne was arranged by Samuel Dushkin. It consists of six five dances framed by a pompous introduction and a brilliant finale.

Béla Bartók – Romanian Folk Dances

Hungarian-born Béla Bartók (25 March 1881 – 26 September 1945) is considered one of the most important and influential composers of the 20th century. His ground-breaking work as ethnomusicologist had a lasting impact on both the academic study of music and the preservation of folk music from Central Europe. Through his fieldwork collecting, transcribing, documenting and analysing folk melodies from this region, Bartók found rich material to develop in his own compositions.

The Romanian Folk Dances, originally composed for piano between 1915-1917, was inspired by traditional music from Transylvania. Bartók saw the music of this region to be more authentic because of its relative isolation from outside influences. Each of the six dances offer a snapshot of the musical and cultural life of early 1900s Transylvania: a young man’s coming of age dance, complete with dramatic kicking of the ceiling (Stick Dance) and inspired by music Bartók first heard performed by two gypsy violinists; a festive number with dancers holding each other’s waists, spinning (drunkenly?) (Sash Dance) from the Banat region; a stomping dance with a melody imitating Middle Eastern instruments (In One Spot); a hornpipe dance with Arabian colours and an air of antiquity from Bucium; an old children’s dance from the region near the border of Hungary and Romania (Romanian Polka); and finally, a courting dance with fast, small steps with melodies from the Beius, Nyagra and Lunca Bradului regions. The version for violin and piano was arranged by Zoltán Székely.

Fritz Kreisler – 3 Alt-Wiener Tanzweisen (3 Old Viennese Melodies)

Austrian-born violin virtuoso Fritz Kreisler (2 February 1875 – 29 January 1962), known for his sweet tone and expressive phrasing, was a performer with superstar status in his day. Also gifted as a composer, Kreisler wrote a multitude of works for violin which he originally attributed to composers such as Corelli, Boccherini and Corelli.  These works, written with the composer as performer in mind, celebrate the expressive and emotive tonal qualities for which Kreisler’s playing was so renowned.

Liebesleid (Love’s Sorrow), Liebesfreud (Love’s Joy), and Schön Rosmarin (Lovely Rosemary), collectively known as the three Old Viennese melodies, capture something of the last vestiges of pre-war Vienna. Composed in 1905, these small-scale works combine Kreisler’s ideal vibrato tone with the characteristic triple-meter Viennese dance music.

Details

Date:
19 March
Time:
11:00 to 14:00
Cost:
R160 – R200
Event Categories:
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Website:
https://www.webtickets.co.za/v2/Event.aspx?itemid=1512358311

Organisers

Book @Webtickets
Cape Town Concert Series

Venue

Baxter Concert Hall
2 Main Rd
Rondebosch, Western Cape 7700 South Africa
Google Map
Phone:
021 685 7880
Website:
www.baxter.co.za