Eileen Joyce Studio
reviewed by Neville Cohn
Cello and piano recitals are rare in Perth. And all-Beethoven programs that pay the closest attention to the stylistic minutiae of the period are rarer still. So this presentation was listened to with particular interest.
Noeleen Wright has devoted years of thought and practice to resurrecting the performing styles of bygone periods, notably the baroque era. I cannot recall hearing her before in music of Beethoven.
With Wright playing on a copy of an early-18th-century cello, with Cecilia Sun at the fortepiano, we were taken on a journey back in time as we listened to music as it might have sounded in Beethoven’s day.
With a bow dipped in the stuff of high inspiration and drawn with unfailing confidence across gut strings – and with Sun’s aauthoritative if occasionally error-strewn support on the fortepiano (a copy of a Viennese model of 1806) – we heard three of Beethoven’s sonatas – opus 5 no 1, opus 69 and opus 102 no 2.
I cannot recall hearing Wright to better advantage. In a presentation that bristled with authority, she gave point and meaning to some of the most elusive music in the canon.
At its most assertive, this was playing that was in the best sense tough-minded – passionate even – with, at times, a grainy, gruff tone quality that sounded entirely right as it brought the works’ more extrovert movements to pulsing life. This intensity of expression was only occasionally paralleled in the fortepiano part in playing that tended to take up an interpretative position some little distance from the emotional epicentre of the keyboard part as in the Rondo from opus 5 no 1 where the insouciant nature of the writing was most apparent in the cello line.
In that most ferociously demanding of movements – the fugal finale to opus 102 no 2 – both Wright and Sun emerged at its conclusion with musical honour intact. This was no mean musical achievement.
Copyright 2005 Neville Cohn