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South African Music

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Author Topic: South African Music  (Read 109 times)
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« on: January 21, 2015, 03:34:40 pm »

Du Plessis: Symphony # 1

From the collection of Karl Miller

Symphony # 1, Op. 14
I. Allegro MOderato
II. Adagio Appassionato
III. Vivace
IV. Moderato

S.A.U.K SImfonie-Orkes
Emil Hartman, Cond.

Source LP: South African Transcription IT 7040

Description of another performance of the symphony by Rob Barnett.

The Symphony is a four movement work written in London between September 1953 and March 1954. Movements 2 and 4 use material from his Op 13 string quartet. It was premiered (after much revision bythe composer) by George Hurst in Cape Town on 10 October 1957. The music is approachable but its lapses into meandering and strained tonality do not consistently hold the attention. The first movement opens with a memorable boozy little march which develops along Roy Harris lines into a theme full of possibilities. The drama of the theme is fully exploited. Du Plessis was helped in bringing the symphony to completion through the guidance of Alan Bush and Howard Ferguson. At 4:10 the influence of Rawsthorne can be heard. The warlike and inspiring qualities of the theme come across very  strongly at 4:40 (track 4) rising to a fine clamorous discordant climax at 5:30. The second movement Adagio Appassionato (Track 5) winds in a quiet fugue through a desolate terrain alternately  confidently flowing and faltering until boiling to a turbulent climax at 5:38. The third movement is a brief skittering vivace. The Moderato last movement begins full of grim foreboding but gradually  and painfully rises out of it to achieve a splendid (though contrived) sense of arrival.

About the composer:

Hubert Lawrence du Plessis was born on 7 June 1922 on the farm Groenrivier in the Malmesbury district. He attended school in Porterville and was the first student to obtain a BA in Music at the Conservatoire in Stellenbosch (1940-43 cum laude). He continued his studies at Rhodes University (1946-1951), Unisa and at the Royal Academy of Music (1951-1954 ) in London.
1955: lecturer at SA Music College
He lectured on Music and Composition at Stellenbosch University from 1958 until his retirement in 1987.

Hubert du Plessis performed as pianist and on the harpsicord. His compositions include a large variety of genres: children's music, chamber music, choir music, Kunstlieder and symphonies. Among the best known are Vreemde Liefde (I D du Plessis, 1951), the string quartet (1953), the choir music, Slamse Beelde (with poems by I D du Plessis, 1959), and the Huguenot-Cantata (1988).
Hubert du Plessis died on 12 March 2011 in his house in Stellenbosch.
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