National Arts Festival – Grahamstown:
Jeff Brukman - CUE contributing editor, Monday 4th July 2011,
'Violinist Zanta Hofmeyr shone as she outlined the sublimely optimistic melody that shapes the opening phrases of the final
- Jeff Brukman
A classical evening with Zanta Hofmeyr
By Albert Storace
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
Zanta Hofmeyr, Violin and Charl du Plessis, Piano. Music Society of Port Elizabeth. NMMU Auditorium.
It was a great idea of our music society to open its 2010 season with an absolute winner – a joint recital by violinist Zanta Hofmeyr and pianist Charl du Plessis, two of the country´s most popular artists. A winner it was in every respect with great music, well played, amusingly introduced and fully appreciated by a capacity audience.
Our visitors opened their recital in strictly “classical” vain with Beethoven´s “Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major, Op.47 (Kreutzer)”, undoubtedly one of the composer´s most difficult works. Needless to say, they successfully mastered both its technical and its musical demands and well portrayed the different moods between and within the individual movements. While remarkable dexterity showed in all virtuosic passages, musical sensitivity emerged in exquisitely phrased melodious lines that provided relaxing contrast. It was however the dense texture of all those quickly running figures that occasionally interfered with dynamic balance. The problem here is caused by the sound volume of the modern piano that by far exceeds that of the early “pianoforte” of Beethoven´s time.
It was only to be expected therefore that right from Piazzolla´s most beautifully played “Oblivion” onwards, musical balance was as perfect as all the other aspects of their playing. After all, the multitalented “Music Man” knows how best to arrange the various works for himself and his great partner. Here was every chance to fully enjoy both Hofmeyr´s brilliant fireworks and that lush and rich tone she achieves on her instrument. Here also was ample opportunity to admire the full range of du Plessis´ pianistic abilities, singing phrases, runs and/or arpeggios all over the keyboard. Together they took us from one pleasure to the next – first with those expressive and/or exciting tangos, then with the equally clever “Jazz Favourites”, great memories of famous tunes ending with the delightful and witty “Beethoven´s Blues”.
After prolonged applause and a well-deserved standing ovation the evening came to its crowning glory, the real “Beethoven Tango” that had us all in raptures of delight. I am confident, the old master listening from heaven must have smiled ! Congratulations and thanks to organisers and artists for an evening never to be forgotten
- Rupert Mayr
Last year a triumphant one in musician´s life
PAUL BOEKKOOI :
2009 WAS a triumphant year in violinist Zanta Hofmeyr’s career: Inspiring performances of Britten’s Violin Concerto, with both the JPO and KZNPO, strong participation in Shostakovich’s chamber music with members of the Musaion Trio (cellist Heleen du Plessis and pianist Malcolm Nay), as well as her and pianist Charl du Plessis’s stimulating cross-over presentation of Beethoven Tango.
She also sometimes presents lower profile concerts in churches with master organist Wim Viljoen. They captured a niche market with Arioso, recorded about a decade ago, a best-seller among locally produced classical CDs.
They´ve just released Cantilena, their second CD together, with inspiring works, easy on the ear, but far from being only smooth. As was the case with Arioso, the recordings were again made in the Universiteitsoord Dutch Reformed Church in Hatfield.
The repertory, this time, is quite different: fewer arrangements and more original music for this unusual combination. “The main reason for us recording this second CD was the richness we found in the works of the German composer Joseph Rheinberger (1839-1901), a versatile, original and productive figure,” says Zanta.
The fact that she and Prof Wim Viljoen were artistically thinking on the same level, is confirmed by Wim´s remark: “When visiting New York some time ago, I bought the sheet music of Rheinberger´s Theme and Variations, Opus 150 no 1 written specifically for the violin/organ combination.” The album´s title refers to another work of the composer, perhaps his most well-known melody, while his Intermezzo is as attractive. In what way did they encounter a growth process in their own playing over the past 10 years?
Zanta: “I´ve concentrated a lot on colouring of sound, to make my vibrato less broad and to contrast it with the type of nuances each work requires.”
Wim feels they´ve chosen more substantial works, with more contrasts in tempo, like in the Baroque composer Michael Festing´s Largo, Allegro, Aria and two variations. “For me the new CD is not only about ‘art music’ per se, but it shifts the niche we´ve created with Arioso into a kind of broader spectrum we trust the public will accept and enjoy.”
Zanta and Wim plan to give more duo concerts when time, within their very busy schedules, permits. Apart from being one of South Afric´s most travelled violinists, Zanta is still fully committed to her teaching career, while Wim, who has been heading the Music Department of the University of Pretoria for the past 18 months, is continuously streamlining the department. It boasts 111 full-time B Mus students and for 2010 they’ve received 50 new applications. - PRETORIA NEWS , THURSDAY FEBRUARY 11 2010
Virtuoso violinist´s deft touch
Cantilena with Zanta Hofmeyr (violin) and Wim Viljoen (organ):
IT IS not so much her virtuoso display that dazzles – despite her rhythmic alertness and vigour – but the way Zanta Hofmeyr combines her intimate understanding of a given piece of music with spontaneity. And with Wim Viljoen at the organ she has a splendid musical partner.
Hofmeyr has a wonderfully supple way with the first four Baroque items in the recital. The JS Bach is given a strikingly meditative reading, while the short Telemann is masterly controlled.
Both musicians exhibit a fine sense of commitment and articulation on The Festing.
The Marcello concerto is full of imaginative touches of colour, both strong and poetic.
In the three Rheinberger items they are presented with a greater challenge.And they prove their mettle through superb technique and feeling. Though played with classical poise, the long Theme and variations, Op 150, contains a romantically inflammable quality.
To the ever-popular Nimrod Variation they bring an awareness all their own.
The two Faure are played with pellucid tone and remarkably chaste expression. From the Apres un reve, Hofmeyr elicits shimmering elfin sounds. Bravura is only one aspect of Rawthorne’s Aria the artists plumb. In this rendering they bring the vocal inspiration to the fore.
CONTACT: The Musicstore: Nassau le Clus, tel 083 740 2528; e-mail: [email protected] – Riek van Rensburg - PRETORIA NEWS , THURSDAY FEBRUARY 11 2010
BENJAMIN BRITTEN VIOLIN CONCERTO
((performances in June 2009)
(with JPO and Bernard Gueller, conductor)
‘Hofmeyr se Britten-triomf’
‘Hofmeyr het duidelik met oorgawe in die Britten gedelf. Die viool-intrede in die eerste deel na die vreemde perkussie-inleiding was uiters sensitief gebalanseerd, en oombliklik is die oorkoepelende, omvattende element van die concerto(en bepaalde vertolking) gevestig. Die werk gly deur hewige kontraste, deur lig en skaduwees, fisiek gemanifesteer in die groot orkesbesetting teenoor ´n viersnaar-solo-instrument. Soos die orkes het di´e instrument oneindige moontlikhede, en Hofmeyr het die “grenslose” musiek uitmuntend oopgevlek. Lenige frases in lang , ononderbroke passasies het as´tware ontkiem.’
‘Kan ´n mens di´e luierende klanke in die afloop van die Passacaglia-slot as “stil musiek” beskryf? Hofmeyr se spel in die epiloog was aangrypend. Dis ´n vertolking wat lank in die gedagtes sal rondmaal, baie spesiaal.’
- Beeld , 9/6/2009
(Translation: ‘Hofmeyr´s Britten triumph’
‘Hofmeyr delved into the Britten with abandon. The violin entry in the opening section, following the strange percussion introduction, was extremely sensitively balanced and immediately conveyed the overarching, enveloping elements of the work and this specific interpretation. The work flows through huge contrasts, light and shadows, physically manifested in the large orchestration against the single four-stringed solo instrument. Similar to the orchestra, the violin also has infinite possibilities and Hofmeyr excelled in portraying the ‘unlimited, boundless’ music. Slender phrases in long, continuous passages literally germinated organically.’
‘Could one perhaps describe the tolling sounds in the closing passages of the Passacaglia as ‘still music’? Hofmeyr’s playing in the epilogue was very moving. This is an interpretation that will linger for a long time in one’s mind, very special.’ )
Angels trod fearlessly with Zanta Hofmeyr
‘Among 20th century violin concertos, Benjamin Britten´s can perhaps be judged the most secretive of all. Some of the greatest virtuosos, like Heifetz, avoided performing it. Not Zanta Hofmeyr.
Where she tread on its indescribable musical sphere, angels were fearlessly with her all the way. Astounding expressive power, warmth, inner depth and confidence are her hallmarks.
She might not always be on top of all the daunting demands the demonic fire of the Scherzo asks for, but she performed it with complete authority. Such interpretations, and not the flashy ones, stick in one´s memory in a work making no concessions to the convention of a concerto as a showpiece.
Ms Hofmeyr´s left hand pizzicatos while bowing simultaneously were dauntingly expressive, her double stop flageolet tones mesmerising and her playing of the extended cadenza haunting.
In the core of the work, the finale’s Passacaglia in which the composer´s realisation of his maturing creative power is reaching a pinnacle, the soloist expressed the full range of unusual sonorities which come into play.
Especially on the Thursday performance the inner world of the concerto´s expressive range was strongly communicated by both the soloist and orchestra. Here the JPO and Gueller elevated their accompanying standards to become a highly refined integral part in fully realising an undervalued 20th century work with strong spiritual values’
- The Jewish Report, 12-19 June 2009
Hofmeyr brings skill and warmth to Britten´s music
‘In her deeply felt interpretation of the work on Wednesday with Bernhard Gueller, ever-alert conductor/accompanist, Zanta Hofmeyr fully mastered the contour and shape of Britten’s thoughts in this discursive yet often passionately concentrated work. She brought skill, commitment, sensitivity and warmth to it.
Although Hofmeyr´s vibrato was perhaps too over-expressive in the opening pages of the first movement, her playing evinced a beguiling lyric beauty. Her characterful advocacy of the work, the broad expressive sweep in her playing and the clarity in which she emphasised the thematic relationships in the work, bound everything together convincingly.
The cadenza, bridging the second and third movements, was played with an intense, brooding and at times painful melancholy.
- Pretoria News, SA
Britten concerto with KZNPO, Durban City Hall, June 25, 2009.
‘The rhapsodic solo violin part bristles with technical problems and at this concert the difficulties were handled with aplomb by Zanta Hofmeyr, a tall, slim and elegant figure and an impressive player. The orchestra under the baton of the visiting American conductor Victor Yampolsky, was excellent and contributed notably to a memorable performance.
’ - Artsmart, 26/06/2009
Die Stroom wat nooit Opdroog
HENDRIK HOFMEYR - SONATA NO.1 for violin and piano
(dedicated to Zanta Hofmeyr and Malcolm Nay)
(performed and premiered by them in October, 2008 at the Aardklop Festival, Potchefstroom, South Africa)
‘Hofmeyr en Nay blink uit as bruisende verkenners’
‘Hul dig verweefde samespel het elke minuskule klank-, figurasie-, harmoniese en melodiese detail duidelik teen ‘n veel groter uitspansel van tydlose vakmanskap afge”ets. Die duo het veral buitengewoon daarin geslaag om die deurlopende dramatise lyn in die Variazioni canoniche hegter te bind, met die slotmate wat die luisteraar reguit hemel toe vat.’
- Beeld, 24/11/2008
(Translation: ‘Hofmeyr and Nay shines as bristling explorers
Their densely woven ensemble playing etched every miniscule sound-, figurative-, harmonic and melodic detail against a much larger expanse of timeless craftsmanship. The duo had extraordinary success in linking the continuous dramatic line in the Variazioni canoniche and the closing bars took the listeners straight to heaven.’ )