What sort of criteria does one apply when evaluating the merits of one string quartet as against another? So many things are relevant – the members’ individual capacities as musicians, their unanimity of attack, quality of tone, temperamental compatibility, unity of concept about the shaping of a phrase, the unfolding of a movement, consistency, presence and other things, too.
The St. John’s Singers, conducted by Hugh Fen with Leslie Owens (organ) performed Charles Wood’s setting of the St. Mark Passion at St. John’s Cathedral last evening.
There was a refreshing modesty about the Italian violinst Salvatore Accardo and his accompanist Niccolo Parente who played in the Bulawayo City Hall last night – not merely personal reticence, but an avoidance of self-regarding virtuosity and of the precariousness with which many performers draw attention to their sensitivity.
A strong case could be made for the proposition that the anger of one man changed the whole course of Western music. Beethoven’s letters abound with distress at his deafness, his social ineptitude and at the shallowness of a society which fawned on the nobility but patronized and exploited genius.
No composer is more difficult for a pianist than Mozart. It is not that there are so many notes, but the executants requires the humanity to seek out the music’s raw- edged tragic core, yet enough composure to avoid unsettling its courtly elegance.
Impressive though Graham Johnson’s recent appearance with the Municipal Orchestra was, his farewell recital given last night for the Bulawayo Music Club, sponsored by the local body of the Arts Council, was in many respects a more satisfying demonstration of his talent.
Much of Beethoven’s late music has a private character so marked that the listener feels like an intruder upon some secret ceremony of communion. Thus the explosive opening of the D minor Sonata Op. 102, No. 2 for cello and piano, plunges into the musical drama without regard for the performers’ need to warm up or to have time to cajole the audience into participation.
The Bulawayo Music Club’s meeting last night featured performances by Bulawayo Choral Society under Hugh Fenn with organist Leslie Owen of Faure’s Requiem and the Gloria of Vivaldi. Given at St. John’s Cathedral, the performances are to be repeated on Sunday evening.
The Beethoven concert (First and Sixth Symphonies) under the baton of Pierino Gamba at Bulawayo City Hall last night constituted an important point in the maturity of the Municipal Orchestra.
Even if one had not been told by the programme that the Kehr String Trio were formed in 1948, one could guess from their rhythmic subtleties, their unforced sense of rubato and their nearly faultless ensemble, that they have been playing together a long time.