Monthly Archives: November 2009

Beloved of the Gods

Dean Emmerson Dean Trio

Tinalley String Quartet

TPT: 68’08”

Melba MR301121


reviewed by Neville Cohn

Kegelstatt Trio (Mozart)

Papamina Suite (Mozart arranged Emmerson)

Quartet in A minor op 13 (Mendelssohn)

Around the world, innumerable recitals and concerts have marked the bicentenary of Felix Mendelssohn’s birth in 1809.

Earlier this year at the Perth International Arts Festival, his complete string quartets  were programmed. For many, perhaps most, of those who attended these performances, it was a musical journey of discovery that brought home emphatically that there is so very much more to Mendelssohn than some of his sentimental Songs without Words, elfin-type essays of one type or another, the hackneyed Wedding March and, of course, the ubiquitous  – and exquisite – Violin Concerto in E minor.

Played by the Tinalley String Quartet, Mendelssohn’s opus 13 in A minor makes compelling listening. The opening adagio – allegro vivace is given a model reading in which the composer’s musical argument is expounded in sometimes achingly beautiful terms.

Crown of this recording is the Intermezzo, a haunting little dance episode that is the quintessence of sadness that bring to mind those heartbreaking moments immediately after Rigoletto discovers that his daughter Gilda has been kidnapped; it’s a brief interlude of despair beyond despair. Here, the Tinalley musicians take up an interpretative position at the emotional epicentre of the music. In a finale that rivets the attention, the players, after a brief obeisance to the opening moments of the closing movement of of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, respond to the score in an intensely dramatic way.

Recording engineers: step forward and take a bow for your skill in magically capturing a performance of Mozart’s engaging Kegelstatt Trio on disc. It doesn’t happen very often that there is such fidelity in a recording that it sounds as if the performance is taking place ‘live’ in your lounge or wherever you happen to be listening. It is a joy to hear – and, happily, the performance is on a par with that.  So, too, does Stephen Emmerson’s arrangement for the same instrumentation – Brett Dean (viola), Paul Dean (clarinet), Stephen Emmerson (piano) – of a suite drawn from Mozart’s The Magic Flute.  It’s a recorded performance of great distinction. It’s a finely managed oscillation between good humour and deep emotion, a model of its kind that deserves to be heard by many. Bravo!

Neither of the composers represented on this disc saw their fortieth birthday. Imagine what riches the world was deprived of by their tragically early demise. Imagine, too, what might have issued from Mozart’s pen had he lived another year – another month! The same could be said of Mendelssohn.

Violin Concertos by Erich Korngold and Miklos Rozsa

Matthew Trusler (violin)

Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra

Yasuo Shinozaki (conductor)

TPT: 68’06”Trusler Cover


reviewed by Neville Cohn

Heifetz, the violinists’ violinist, had in life so glittering a reputation that his merest

association with this or that concerto would instantly make whatever work it was a focus of international attention. And so it was with the violin concertos by two composers both of whose names, incidentally, are inextricably linked to music for the motion picture industry in Hollywood.

Matthew Trusler is featured soloist in these two works – and what a splendid advocate he is for these concertos. With unfailing beauty and clarity of tone – and ushering in and tapering phrases in a consistently musicianly way – Trusler gives irrefutable evidence of his right to a position well to the forefront of living violinists.

Trusler uses a bow that formerly belonged to Heifetz – and he is worthy of it; his bowing technique is near-flawless. He is no less worthy of his superb Stradivari fiddle that dates back to 1711. In Trusler’s hands, it sings with a voice that caresses the ear.

But for all the persuasiveness of Trusler’s playing – and the concerto’s imaginative scoring – I remain unconvinced of the worth of the concerto by Rozsa. The latter is, of course, best known for his many fine scores for Hollywood movies. And it is difficult – near-irresistible, in fact – to listen to this work without thinking how suitable much of it might have been as background music for one or another classy 1940s film noir.

Intriguingly, there are moments in the concerto that sound like a graceful tribute to Bela Bartok; Rosza was, after all, also Hungarian and an unabashed admirer of his great compatriot. Throughout, Trusler is near-faultless.

Korngold’s concerto, however, is in an altogether different, much higher category and Trusler makes the most of soaring lines in the first movement. From first note to last, he brings extraordinary powers of expressiveness to his playing with notes invariably clothed in tone of the most appealing kind. Throughout, there’s pinpoint intonation.

I particularly admired the finale with its fleeting obeisance to Copland in rodeo mood to which Trusler responds with fantastic agility and accuracy.

Had the shade of Heifetz hovered over the recording session, I rather imagine he’d have given it a nod of approval, not least for Trusler’s immaculate presentation of three miniatures that Heifetz used to offer as encores. Trusler is near-faultless in the ubiquitous Jeanie with the Light brown Hair and Ponce’s Estrelita.

Recorded quality is excellent.