A classical evening with Zanta Hofmeyr
One of the last events of the season at the Manoel Theatre was the performance dominated by two very accomplished South African musicians.
Violinist Zanta Hofmeyr and pianist Elna Van Der Merwe with Maltese soprano Gillian Zammit and clarinettist Godfrey Mifsud, delighted the audience in a performance presented by Frenech, Farrugia, Fiott Legal in aid of the Malta Community Chest Fund.
Beginning with Mozart's Sonata for violin and piano in G, K. 301 the two musicians immediately proved what a well-knit team they are in a work which in this genre Mozart still treats the piano not as a mere accompanying instrument but as one which shared prominence with the violin.
How lucky Ysaÿe was that César Franck wrote his only violin sonata as wedding present for his fellow Belgian. I must confess this is one of my top favourites and would definitely have it with me if marooned on some desert island. Preferably too, if played in the way this was performed by the two women.
A supreme example of cyclic music, the material unfolds in wave after irresistible wave of drama and tenderness. It is at times most tantalising, when it appears as if it were over, only to come back in force to assail the senses, to seduce, spell-bind and conquer.
Even the best violinists would never dare attempt a performance of this masterpiece if they did not have a pianist worth his/her salt, for the piano part requires great skill technique, involvement and supreme musicianship, qualities Elna Van Der Merwe possesses in abundance.
The second part was lighter by comparison. It began with soprano Zammit singing O mio babbino caro from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi with great charm.
Different in character, she was even better in Caccini's famous Ave Maria to violin and piano accompaniment. Mifsud, one of our best clarinettists, joined the violinist and piano in Charles Camilleri's mood setting exercises.
If any direct quotes from De Falla's music were expected, these never materialise the work being of a rather generally Mediterranean character with no boundary restrictions.
Monti's Csárdas was a virtuoso performance by the violinist, dedicated to a mysterious, anonymous lady somewhere in the audience, followed by the more serene and sedate Jascha Haifetz transcription of Debussy's lovely song Beau Soir, with muted violin for better effect.
Genuine De Falla came with a dance from that composer's La vida breve marked with a lot of verve and zest. The successful performance by the duo and the audience's enthusiastic reception of it was such that the public had to be placated with an encore, the Méditation from Massenet's Thaïs. - The Sunday Times, Sunday 5th June 2011, Malta