THE cello has featured prominently in classical music in Durban this year, and the pattern was maintained in the latest concert of the Friends of Music at the Durban Jewish Centre.

Entitled Cellibration (pictured), it featured six musicians from the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, four of them cellists.

This is the second Cellibration for the Friends of Music and, like the first, was a great success. The cello speaks eloquently in a wide range of musical moods and styles, and these expert players provided a consistently enjoyable evening of music from the 16th century to the 20th, from baroque to rock.

Boris Kerimov (pictured), the leader of the orchestra’s cello section, leads this group as well, and he did so in this concert with clear and good-humoured authority. The other cellists were Alejandro Mariangel Pradenas, Marguerite Spies and Fiona Grayer, and the outside support came from Elena Kerimova, violin (Boris’s wife) and Stephane Pechoux, percussion.

There were 15 items on the programme, most of them from South America (notably music by Astor Piazzolla, the tango king) and from Eastern Europe. These were skilfully arranged for four cellos, and were much appreciated.

There were two high points of the evening: Bach’s Chaconne in D minor, a series of 64 variations on a brief, powerful theme, evi- dence again of the astonishing modernity of Bach’s music; and

the appearance of violinist Elena Kerimova in a stunning short purple dress. A rhapsody in purple.

She gave a virtuoso performance of rapid showpieces by the Romanian composer Grigoras Dinicu and works by Piazzola.

She and her husband Boris are Russians who came to Durban 15 years ago and have made an important contribution to music here.

The prelude performer of the evening, supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, was the baritone Ivo Almond, who is, I understand, an English exchange student at Kears-ney College. Accompanied at the piano by Bonita Ziegelmeier, he sang excerpts from Songs of Travel by Ralph Vaughan-Williams, displaying an accurate, well-controlled voice of high quality. –