Tag Archives: Callaway Auditorium

Keyed-Up series



Raymond Yong (piano)

Callaway Auditorium

reviewed by Neville Cohn


Few composers are as demanding on musicians as Mozart. The tiniest misjudgement in passagework, the smallest lapse in clarity can prove disastrous. Happily, Raymond Yong succeeded in steering the clearest and most musicianly way through the solo part of Mozart’s Concerto in A, K414 ensuring, seemingly effortlessly, that the peak of the afternoon lay securely in the keeping of the Salzburg master.


It was a rarely encountered version of the work, with the orchestra here replaced by a string quartet, an alternative mooted by Mozart himself. Here, with his customary distinction, Paul Wright led a quartet made up of Isabel Hede (violin), Jared Yap (viola) and Sophie Parkinson-Stewart (cello).


If this had been Yong’s only contribution to the afternoon, it would have been an altogether fulfilling experience, such were the precision, fluency and expressive insights brought to bear on the score. Raymond Yong


Later, we heard Liszt’s massive Sonata in B minor, a work which is

no-man’s-land to all but the very few pianists able to meet its formidable challenges, not least of which is substantial staying power to maintain momentum through its frequently gruelling episodes. In its half-hour course, Liszt’s work poses immense physical and stylistic challenges that can test the mettle of the most experienced of pianists. From every standpoint, however, Yong was clearly in control. It was an heroic effort, crowned with success in a way that augurs well for a solo career of distinction. There was no hint of strain at all, despite the massive demands the sonata makes on the performer.


A bracket of the first eight of Chopin’s 24 Preludes opus 28 was less uniformly persuasive. The first, in C, barely hinted at the composer’s requirement that it be played agitato. No 5 in D sounded rather bland. But the famous Prelude in E minor was a beautifully considered offering, an essay in melancholy. The Prelude in F sharp minor, too, could hardly have been bettered, its fiercely demanding, very rapid figurations in the right hand despatched with utmost agility and accuracy.


As encore, Yong played Schubert’s Impromptu in G flat, its serenity a perfect foil to the passionate grandeur of the Liszt Sonata.




Cameron Roberts (piano)

Keyed-Up series

Callaway Auditorium

reviewed by Phoebe Schuman


This was a recital to grip the attention of the most jaded listeners: a compilation of works all being given their first airings in Perth. This is not to suggest that the audience would have been unfamiliar with the works on offer. On the contrary, these were some of the most frequently encountered pieces in the classical repertoire but here heard, for the first time in Perth, in the form of piano transcriptions by the soloist Cameron Roberts.


But these accounts of standard repertoire – Tchaikowsky’s 1812 Overture, say, or Summer from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and songs of Rachmaninov – were offered, not as hack reductions of well known staples but extraordinarily apposite keyboard versions that came across like a compendium of musical marvels.

  Cameron Roberts




One of the most abiding recollections of this recital was the quite astonishing wealth of detail that reached the ear, subtleties which in the original, say, at climactic high points in the 1812 Overture or Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, would not necessarily have impinged on the consciousness. Here, though, we were able to detect subtleties with a clarity that was both astounding and gratifying.

An account of Summer from The Four Seasons sprang to new and fascinating life, with notes more often than not clothed in glorious tone, its movements presented like a chaplet of flawlessly fashioned gems.

I was particularly impressed with Roberts’ transcription of Rachmaninov’s song How Beautiful it is Here! Luminous tone, clarity of line and profound expressiveness made this one of the evening’s most memorable moments.

Peak of the evening lay in the keeping of Bach: the slow movement from his Concerto for 2 violins BWV 1043 was a model, not only of the transcriber’s art, but a remarkable unbottling of its gentle genie. Bravissimo!

Unsurprisingly, there were encores: another transcription – In Paradisum from Faure’s Requiem and a passionate reading of Andaluza from the 12 Spanish Dances by Granados.

Musica del Mondo

Callaway Auditorium

reviewed by Neville Cohn

Those who gathered at Callaway Auditorium at the weekend to hear tango ensemble Quartetto were told that, due to illness, the concert had been cancelled. Instead, we heard Musica del Mondo, a quintet whose prime focus is folk music of central Europe.

I dare say that for most at the performance, this would have been a first encounter with the del Mondo players. And, as we were told by affable team leader Alex Millier (best known to concertgoers as clarinet player in the WASO), this was the very first time the group had ever played in a venue which had both walls AND a roof!

The ensemble’s more usual haunts are outdoors markets. And this would have explained why the decibel levels produced by the players on Sunday were so high. But that extra sonic grunt and staying power that are necessary for the del Mondo musicians to make themselves heard out of doors competing against traffic noise, airplanes overheard and shouting spruikers one encounters at open air markets, turned out to be overkill at Callaway Auditorium.

Musica del Mondo brings very real skill and enthusiasm to its playing which, in both technical terms and stylistic authenticity, are immediately apparent and indisputable. But the ensemble will need to rein in its sonic exuberance as well as introducing more tonal light and shade when it comes in, quite literally, from the cold.

How fascinating (and serendipitous) it was to come across this ensemble and to listen to the sort of music – unsophisticated, earthy, atavistic and powerfully communicative – that composers such as Bartok diligently collected from remote villages to conserve for posterity before it disappeared altogether. There was also some klezmer music with Philip Everall, engagingly sporting a trilby (as did accordionist Mark Bozikovich) coming close to the heart of a genre that, like the tango, is enjoying a remarkable worldwide renaissance.

Musica del Mondo consists of five players who are not only gifted but versatile. Russell Johnson, for instance, is as articulate on the hurdy gurdy as the violin (I understand he also plays percussion and the Arabic string instrument known as the oud.). And between them, Millier and Everall play a variety of clarinets ranging from the peeping sopranino to the gruffly burping, low-register contrabass clarinet. Bozikovich certainly knows his way around the accordion as does Phil Waldron on double bass.

This concert may well have been a journey of discovery for many. I look forward to hearing Musica del Mondo again whether indoors or (weather permitting) outside at the markets.

Neville Cohn Copyright 2006

Elandra Ensemble

Elandra Ensemble

Callaway Auditorium

reviewed by Neville Cohn

Tapping into the seemingly limitless repertoire of Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, the musicians of the Elandra Ensemble (a loose coalition of professionals drawn mainly from the W.A.Symphony Orchestra) played a number of his idiosyncratic tangos as well as music by Istvan Marta and two of the Elandra musicians. But while Piazzolla represented the lion’s share of the program, it was Blues for Gilbert by Mark Glentworth that proved the chief joy of the evening.

Percussionist Paul Tanner, who has been a stalwart of the local music scene for a good many years, was at his persuasive best at the vibraphone. Much of the work is couched in gentle, languid terms and here Tanner did wonders, using his mallets to produce delicate arabesques, note streams clothed in auras of glowing sound. And in more robust episodes, he employed multi-mallets with trademark control and accuracy.

I very much admired, too, the ensemble’s account of Piazzolla’s Fugato which came across as a fascinating exercise in quasi-Bachian style, with Catherine Cahill (clarinet), Zac Rowntree (violin), Tanner on percussion, Tom O’Halloran (piano) and Peter Jeavons on double bass demonstrating an iron nerve and a cool mind to bring this tango to exhilarating life. Stylistically, it was entirely convincing.

And O’Halloran’s own Guapo which oscillated between swagger and swoon, employed rapidly repeated chords to dramatic effect.

Piazzolla’s Soledad was another delight, not least for its wide range of timbres, including warm, dark tone from the clarinet’s chalumeau register, a groaning double bass and vibraphone keys struck with the wooden reverse ends of the mallets.

Also on the bill was Piazzolla’s Michelangelo ’70, an engaging miniature with little screams on the violin and an irresistible, toe-tapping rhythmic underpinning.

© November 2003