Monthly Archives: June 2010

Original Transcriptions for Piano



Cameron Roberts (piano)

TTP: 63’00”



Goldberg Variations (Bach)

Cameron Roberts (piano)

TTP: 68’00”



reviewed by Neville Cohn


MCD404 is one of the most satisfying recordings I’ve heard in some time. It brims with good things.


All the transcriptions on this CD are by Cameron Roberts himself. Certainly, he shapes to the demands of whatever he plays like fine wine to a goblet. His taste is impeccable, his physical command of the piano is remarkable. Refinement of style  informs every moment of this recording.


Vivaldi’s Summer from The Four Seasons is a high point of this collection with Roberts working wonders with this much loved work. Magically silvery tone in the high treble informs the second movement which is transcribed and played with such artistry as to assume an identity that is quite unique and able to stand proudly in its own right. At its most extrovert, the playing has a Lisztian grandeur.


Roberts’ version of Rachmaninov’s song How Beautiful it is Here! is given marvellously lyrical treatment, each note clothed in gorgeous cantabile tone. The same composer’s The Morn of Life, Sleep is a model of introspection.


Is there a more hackneyed work in the American canon than Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue? Here, though, Roberts demonstrates a mastery of style and an heroic physical command of the instrument which, at climaxes, generates massive waves of noble sound. Bravo!


The Largo ma no tanto from Bach’s Concerto for two violins is another gem which leaves little doubt that Roberts is a born Bach interpreter; this offering cannot be faulted.


Tchaikowsky’s 1812 overture runs for more than a quarter hour – and every moment of it makes for thrilling listening.


This compilation is a stunningly fine example of the transcriber’s art.


ROBERTS  is in Olympian form in Bach’s Goldberg Variations which comes across as a chaplet of near-faultlessly fashioned pianistic gems. Variation 8, for instance, has a delightfully spiky, buoyant quality, Variation 10 is memorable for its emphatic rhythms – and there’s a wondrous clarity and control in Variation 11. Variation 12 is in the best sense danceable – and the bold, abruptly peremptory quality of Variation 16 could hardly have been bettered. A dainty, graceful account of Variation 17 makes for sheerly beautiful listening – and the intricate delicacy of Roberts playing in the20th variation calls finest Brussels lace to mind.


There’s no lack of virtuosity when called for: Variation 23 is given refreshingly forthright treatment – and Variation 23 is informed by fantastic agility and precision.  Variation 30, though, calls for a more paean-like quality.


A bonus takes the form of three transcriptions of Bach originals: Aus liebe from the St Matthew Passion comes across as an essay in achingly poignant terms – and the darkly bodeful despair that is the essence of Es ist Vollbracht from the St John Passion is as much an instance of the transcribers art at its highest as it is a profoundly probing interpretation.

Waiting for Godot (Beckett)



His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth(Australia)

reviewed by Neville Cohn


Although the prime focus of pre-season publicity and advertising for Waiting for Godot was Sir Ian McKellen, (quite understandable bearing his huge celebrity in mind) it would be fair to say that on-stage honours were shared equally by the four main players. Indeed, having experienced a number of productions of Beckett’s masterpiece, each with its particular strengths (and weaknesses), I would unhesitatingly place this presentation at the forefront; it riveted the attention – and for all the right reasons.


I cannot too highly praise the skill which each of the players brought to the production; their ensemble was flawless. The four brought priceless skill to their acting.


As Pozzo, Matthew Kelly was superb, a towering figure (in both histrionic and visual terms) who came across as the apotheosis of cruelty, an incarnation of callousness, not least through his indifference to the plight of the unfortunate Lucky. The latter, played by Brendan O’Hea, gave the performance of his life. Literally bowed down by the weight of the heavy bags he carries, his hopelessness and defeat would surely have moved even the most indifferent of theatregoers. His death-like pallor and bedraggled, colourless hair made him wraithlike.


For almost all the time he’s on stage, Lucky utters not a syllable. But, when he does begin to talk, one could sense an almost palpable initial relief on the part of the audience willing him to have his say. But, as ever, when the luckless Lucky finally opens up, there’s a seemingly unstoppable torrent of muddled, incomprehensible verbiage, so much so that – and this invariably happens – one begins heartily to wish he had never opened his mouth.


As Estragon and Vladimir, McKellen and Roger Rees respectively were beyond reproach. A facial gesture here, a flick of the wrist there, a frown, a smile, a snatch of  song and a softshoe shuffle, a chuckle, a sigh: these were the minutiae of a magically matchless offering where the impact of the whole was far greater than the sum of its constituent parts. Have audiences ever before encountered a more engaging couple of hobos than those given us courtesy of McKellen and Rees?


Young Craig Hyde-Smith did well as the messenger of the mysterious, ever-absent  Godot.


During intermission, I overheard a playgoer bitterly complaining that Godot was a play about nothing. Perhaps so – but I’d any day watch this ‘show about nothing’ with its myriad subtleties and veiled meanings than the one George Costanza had in mind in the Seinfeld TV series.


Sean Mathias worked wonders as director. Lavish laurels to set designer Stephen Brimson Lewis for dreaming up an altogether appropriate visual environment for the playing out of Beckett’s masterpiece with what looked like the a dark brick wall of some huge industrial building as a backdrop with, on either side of the stage, a representation of a crumbling, double storied mansion with, stage centre, a tree, bare but for a very few leaves, all, for the most part, bathed in the curious, greyish-silver light design of Paul Pyant.