Sultry South American sounds

2008-08-12 00:00

Margaret von Klemperer

ONCE again, the Hilton Festival will have a strong music component, put together by the indefatigable Christopher Duigan of Music Revival. This year, there is a strong, sultry South American theme so look out for the sounds of the tango. There are 13 concerts in the line-up and Duigan says there is a great mix of classic and contemporary.

There will be two concerts by the Festival Tango Ensemble led by Stanislav Angelov (accordion and bandoneon), whose previous visit to Pietermaritzburg sold out. First is Tango Dance Night, with a six-piece, all-star ensemble — Angelov, James Grace, Duigan, Andreas Kappen, Valentina Koleva and Ralica Cherneva — performing a popular selection of traditional dance tango. In their second concert, they will turn to the “nuovo tango” of Astor Piazzolla, whose music has become a worldwide phenomenon in recent years, incorporating elements from classical music and jazz.

Neil Gonsalves on acoustic piano, with guest artists on bass and drums, continues the Latin theme in Jazz Night. The programme ranges from standards to original compositions and will be a great way to round off a busy day at the festival.

Piazzolla features again when Duigan and Grace have a guitar and piano duel. There is little music written for the combination so the pair has devised much of the content themselves, drawing on various musical genres — including the flamenco-inspired show stopper, La Fiesta. Grace will also give a solo guitar recital, performing a selection of South American music from his forthcoming CD. Valentina Koleva on violin will join him to play music by Pujol.

When Duigan goes solo, he returns to the Western repertoire with two works from Beethoven — the upbeat Waldstein Sonata and the composer’s final piano sonata in two movements. And in his second solo concert, Play, Piano Play, Duigan will perform music from film composers, including Gershwin, Myra Hess’s arrangement of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, Chopin, Bach, Liszt and others. When he joins up with Boris and Elena Kerimov to form the ever popular Kerimov Trio for From Russia to Rio, the music will again move east and south, with Russian folk songs, Brahms’s Hungarian Dance No.5 and Brazilian and Argentinian tango.

The Kerimov Trio will also present a change of mood with Ave Maria — Music for a Sunday morning. This will begin with a selection of celebrated settings of Ave Maria by Bach, Gounod, Schubert, Caccini and Piazzolla and move on to music by Mozart and Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos. Duigan will also get together with members of the Blue Velvet Strings — Ralica Cherneva, Valentina Koleva and Cecila de Cecco — for a concert of piano quartets by Mozart and Beethoven. The string players, all members of the KZNPO, will be making their debut festival appearances.

Visiting artists who have also not been to the festival before are Polina Burdakova and Kerryn Hendy who will give a cello and piano recital. In 1992 they shared the top prize at the Absa Youth competition but only met up again in 2005. Since then they have performed together regularly, making their successful European debut this year. They have compiled a programme of music by Schumann, Shostakovich and Chopin.

For lovers of the sound of the human voice, there are two concerts. One brings another newcomer to the Hilton stage — Njabulo Madladla. He is enjoying a stellar career as a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music in London, a Britten Pears Young Artist, a Samling Foundation scholar, winner of the young Kathleen Ferrier Award and more. He has performed in many prestigious venues overseas, and will perform a programme of music by Schumann, Schubert, Vaughan Williams and others as well as spirituals and South African folk songs in Zulu and Afrikaans.

The second choral concert features the Pietermaritzburg Youth Choir directed by Rykie Boeke and assisted by Patrick Harty. The choir is gaining a strong reputation locally and comprises pupils from schools in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas. They are planning an overseas tour to Argentina next year.

The festival programme will appear in The Witness on August 15 when booking opens. From the following day booking kits will be available at all major Spar outlets in KZN, Exclusive Books at Midlands Mall and the Pavilion, Bookworld at Cascades, Adams Books in Musgrave Centre, the Witness office; the Hilton College theatre and at www.artslink.co.za/hilton

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