Celebration of love

2011-04-12 00:00

FORMER Pietermaritzburg resident, Renee Reznek, is returning home for a piano recital hosted by Music Revival at 35 Montgomery Road, Athlone, at 7 pm tomorrow night.

Described by critics as “an artist of scrupulous sensitivity and intelligence”, Reznek often performs pieces especially written for her — and for her concert in the city she will be playing Old Roses, written by South African-born composer, David Earl, which she is dedicating to her parents, Dr ‘Koffie’ and Rose Reznek.

Asked why she had commissioned the work, she said: “David Earl has captured the sense of an idyllic childhood spent playing in a beautiful garden. He evokes my mother’s beloved rose garden in particular.

“His piece conveys the beauty of my childhood home and the love which my parents had for each other. There is both a celebration of that love and a poignant sadness that life does not last forever. David Earl’s style is melodic and richly harmonic and I think they would have loved this music. I can’t wait to play it in the city in which they spent all their married life.”

Reznek, who attended Athlone Primary School — a school her mother helped to found before going on to Girls’ High School — studied at the University of Cape Town and University of Michigan. Later, while undertaking doctoral research into the Second Viennese School at Oxford University, she made her London debut in the Park Lane Group’s series, Young Artists and Twentieth Century Music.

Asked when she first began playing the piano, she says: “When I was four years old my parents went on an extended trip overseas, leaving my brother and me in the care of our grandmother and a retired piano teacher, Bessie Penney, who was an honorary auntie.

“To keep her happy, they hired a piano and I was transfixed by her playing. I still remember sitting in a corner of the room and listening. When she noticed my fascination, she decided to teach me and by the time my parents returned, I could play simple pieces.”

For her Pietermaritzburg concert, Reznek will also be playing Leoš Janácek’s selections from On An Overgrown Path; Claude Debussy’s Préludes from Book 2; Giles Swayne’s Bagatelles Book 1, Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus, a collection of pieces by the French composer Olivier Messiaen; and Hendrik Hofmeyr’s Partita Africana.

Speaking about her choice of works, she said: “I wanted a programme of music which originated in some way in an intense life experience. David Earl’s piece is, as he puts it, ‘an ongoing valediction to love given and taken as well as a meditation on the mystery of life’s impermanence.’

“The contemplative mood fitted with the religious pieces of Messiaen from the Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jesus, which spring from Messiaen’s mysticism. This led to the first piece of South African composer Hendrik Hofmeyr’s which evokes the lost voice of the San people. To balance this there follows a wonderful African dance.”

Reznek specialises in playing twentieth and now 21st-century piano music and says she never tires of the astonishing diversity of this repertoire. That said, if she were to choose one composer to take with her to a desert island, it would be J. S. Bach.

Currently residing in London with husband, Ehsan, she is mum to Daniel and Michelle, and teaches from home when she’s not giving performances. Her most recent recitals took place in London, Southampton, Cambridge and Oxford.

Tickets for the concert are R100 including wine and coffee. To book e-mail booking@musicrevival.co.za or phone 033 342 3051.

• Reznek will also be giving a solo concert at Howard College Theatre, UKZN, Durban tonight at 7.30 pm. Tickets are R60 (R30 students/concessions). Phone 031 260 3353 or 072 822 7988 for more information.

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