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BIRD Songs at Eventide could have been the title for a concert of delightful music from the unusual trio of soprano, flute and piano.
Playing for the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre last week, Beverley Chiat (soprano), Liesl Stoltz (flute) and Christopher Duigan (piano) showed great skill and artistry in a programme of largely unfamiliar music.
Chiat and Stoltz are from Cape Town. Duigan (pictured) is a KZN man. In a programme of 14 items ranging from the early 18th century to the mid-20th, they performed in every possible combination of their three roles, and did so with admirable rapport.
Most of the music was in some way related to birds or to Pan, the Greek god of shepherds, and a piper of note. The trio opened with a work written by Handel in 1740, a nightingale song from an oratorio based on Milton’s poem L’Allegro. In effect this is a duet for flute and coloratura soprano, and the quality of the singer and flautist was clear from the outset.
Flautist and pianist then performed a three-movement sonata, The Flute of Pan, by the French composer Jules Mouquet (1867-1946). This turned out to be a very attractive, elegant, non-abrasive work, with plenty of Gallic humour and wit. Very good playing from Stoltz, and Duigan was a discreet and sympathetic collaborator, as he was through-out the evening.
Then we had the pianist as soloist, in one of Schumann’s best-known pieces, the enigmatic and mystical Vogel als Prophet, (Bird as Prophet).
This was followed by a leap into our own time and place with Pan and the Nightingale, a short work for solo, unaccompanied, flute by the South African composer Stefans Grové.
We left the birds briefly with a lovely performance by Chiat of Caro Nome from Verdi’s Rigoletto, a reminder that this singer has a big reputation as an opera soprano.
Then came Olivier Messiaen’s Le Merle Noir (The Black Bird) for flute and piano; Ravel’s Oiseaux tristes (Sad Birds) from his five Miroirs for solo piano; Rossignol (Nightingale) by Albert Roussel (1869-1937) for the very unusual combination of flute and soprano, no piano; and a lovely piece by Saint-Saens called The Invisible Flute.
Three Hebrew songs, poignant, emotional, lyrical, were presented by Chiat with beautiful tone and affectionate interpretation, and short works by Debussy and Delibes ended a highly successful concert.
The prelude performer of the evening, funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was William Chin, another talented violinist of Eastern origins. He is an 18-year-old pupil at Clifton College in Durban and showed skill and confidence, especially in the well-known Czardas by Vittorio Monti. – Artsmart.co.za