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Hour of Magic

MALCOLM MILLER is enthralled by
seldom-heard East European music


An exciting concert of seldom performed 19th and 20th century works for piano and for voice and piano, The Hour of Magic, featured the London-based Israeli mezzo soprano Ruti Halvani with American pianist Miriam Brickman, at the Skriabin Space of the Luke and A Gallery, Pollen Street, London W1, UK, on 18 November 2002. This gallery has, in recent months, become a magnet for stimulating concert fare, under the enterprising artistic direction of Monica Saunders, founder of Music at Woodhouse, and this evening was no exception.

The theme of East European and Russian composers served to connect disparate styles ranging from Moszkowski to Ligeti, all performed with charisma and dynamism by this excellent duo. Miss Brickman is well known for her international appearances and broadcasts, particularly of music by her husband, the composer Ronald Senator, and unique programmes of poetry and music, evinced on a recent CD. Ruti Halvani is rapidly carving out an operatic career with recent appearances at Wexford and Holland Park Opera, and at major concert venues, sharing platforms with soloists such as Willard White.

Miriam Brickman's characterful renditions of little known piano works formed a fascinating overture to each half. To begin, a charming suite of miniatures by Smetana, entitled Innocence, Desire, Love and Fairy Tale, and the rhythmically propulsive Film en Miniature by Martinu, that includes a zestful 'Tango', tripping 'Scherzo', 'Chanson' and radiant 'Carillon'. To open the second half were Miriam Brickman's colourful accounts of Two Etudes by Ligeti -- the chromatic cascades of Rainbow and Fanfare, with its asymmetrical ostinato. It was followed by an explosively dazzling Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No 11, which affirmed her purposeful and communicative pianism.

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Copyright © 21 November 2002 Malcolm Miller, London, UK


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