REVIEW: DIE BURGER (SA)
HENDRIK HOFMEYR: BYZANTIUM - Zanne Stapelberg, Soprano
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVITCH: VIOLIN CONCERTO NO.1 - Zoë Beyers, Violin
Hendrik Hofmeyr (46) has won several awards over the past 15 years - the Dimitri Mitropoulos Competition in Athens in 1997 with 'Byzantium,' beating more than 200 candidates from 35 countries. This work for soprano and orchestra is based on the homonymous poem by the Irish Nobel Prize winner William Butler Yeats (1865 -1939). It describes the transfiguration of the soul in its passage from the human to the spiritual. The soul is called to the imperial city of Byzantium (now known as Istanbul, but intended here as symbol of perfection). 'Byzantium' makes for demanding listening. Like many more modern works it is not full of singable tunes, but it is definitely accessible and again confirms Hofmeyr's imaginative creativity. The CPO, reinforced by a piano, conjured up an exciting spectrum of sounds. Zanne Stapelberg seems to be at the start of a great career. An ex-member of the Tygerberg Children's Choir, she studied at Stellenbosch and Cape Town, and was nominated Most Promising Singer by the Friends of Cape Town Opera. ..
A week earlier the CPO payed tribute to Sergei Prokofief, a Russian denigrated by the Stalin regime. The same fate befell Dmitri Shostakovich (1906 -1975) in 1948. Although he had started work on his First Violin Concerto in the preceding year, it was only performed in 1955. The soloist on that occasion was David Oistriach, whose pupil Alla Shubinsky is the current leader of the CPO. .. Zoë Beyers excelled in this work. She showed why she has won so many prizes and scholarships, and why she was nominated best South African candidate at the UNISA International String Competition. Of the four movements, the two slow ones (the first and the third) are especially striking. Beyers' playing here was exquisite, with ethereal high notes. In the cadenza and the finale she showed virtuosity without forcing herself into the foreground.