Tag Archives: Frisson

Geoffrey Lancaster (fortepiano)

Sonatas Nos 32 in G minor, 31 in A flat and 33 in C minor

TPT: 66’22”

Tall Poppies TPT: 66’22”

reviewed by Neville Cohn


To listen to Geoffrey Lancaster playing Haydn on the fortepiano is to be drawn ineluctably into the sound and mood world of the composer. And that was very much the case at a series of recitals that Lancaster gave in Perth recently.


 Before listening to the first of a projected series of compact disc recordings devoted to Haydn’s complete keyboard sonatas, I wondered to what extent that sense of spontaneity that made his live recitals so extraordinarily satisfying would be captured on disc. Would the freshness and vitality transfer successfully to recordings?


Any concerns I might have had on this point evaporated within moments. There is a wonderful sense of spontaneity here – and it is abundantly in evidence. Indeed, the playing on this CD is so ‘alive’ that listening to it provides that additional frisson one associates primarily with  experiencing a profound musical interpretation in the flesh, as it were.


Over the years, I have lost count of the times I’ve heard Lancaster in recital. Hopefully, this recording and those to follow will allow listeners living far from the main routes of the international concert circuit to experience the magic of Lancaster’s interpretative insights.


Just as in his recent recitals in Perth, each of the sonatas here is prefaced by a short prelude which, Lancaster explained to the audience, was the common practice in recital in Haydn’s day.


Lancaster provides his own prelude to the Sonata No 32 in G minor but the other two sonatas – Sonata No 31 and Sonata No33 – are prefaced by preludes composed by Muzio Clementi.


As a whole, this recording is pure delight. Make a point of adding it to your CD collection; it will enrich your music life.

Recital- Government House Ballroom

Sacha McCulloch (cello)

Faith Maydwell (piano)

Government House Ballroom

reviewed by Neville CohnCelloPianoWeb

A recital of masterworks for cello and piano at Government House Ballroom at the weekend raised funds for the Australian Red Cross. Unusually at this venue, curtains at the rear of the stage were drawn back so allowing the late afternoon sun to bathe the stage in light.

It was an account of Brahms’ Sonata for cello and piano, opus 99 that provided the most consistent listening pleasure. Here, both musicians drew from deep wells of expressiveness in a way that allowed the sonata’s cumulative grandeur to register most positively on the consciousness.

Certainly, with Maydwell at the venue’s splendid, recently acquired Fazioli grand piano – and McCulloch impressive in coaxing noble tone from the cello, especially in the lower range – one was able to savour one of Brahms’ greatest inspirations. In fact, if this had been the only item on the program, it would have been an entirely fulfilling listening experience. I dare say that unfamiliarity with the Ballroom’s acoustics may have been a factor contributing to some less than immaculate cello intonation.

Rachmaninov’s Sonata for cello and piano is not for tinkle-fingered shrinking violets. On the contrary, it requires a cool head, an iron nerve and Olympian staying power to essay this formidably demanding score. I’m happy to say that on these counts, both musicians came up trumps with playing of an impressively committed kind. More often than not, there was bracing attack and follow-through in even the most dauntingly complex episodes, and these were almost invariably a model of what fine ensemble playing is all about. Again and again while traversing the musical equivalent of a minefield, the duo seemed to relish coming to grips with its challenges. I especially admired the quality of keyboard tremolos which brought an extra frisson to the scherzo.

This epic opus makes massive demands on the players but, some less than precise cello intonation aside, both musicians emerged from this titanic musical challenge with honour largely intact.

As curtainraiser, we heard Beethoven’s Variations on a Theme by Mozart. Notationally immaculate playing with pleasing corporate tone compensated for some lack of buoyancy in presentation.

There was an extended interval with fizzy drinks on the house.

Fremantle Chamber Orchestra



Jessica Gethin (conductor)

Rudolf Koelman (violin)

reviewed by Neville Cohn

photo by Roel Loopers

Rudolf Koelman    Jessica Gethin

Rudolf Koelman Jessica Gethin

Saint Saens: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso 09:04

Saint Saens: Havanaise                   08:40

Wieniawski: Violin Concerto No 2 in D minor, opus 22

Allegro moderato                            10:51

Romance: andante non troppo        04:26

Allegro con fuoco                           00:33

Allegro moderato (a la Zingara)     05:15


Rudolf Koelman, for many years concertmaster of Holland’s famed Concertgebaauw Orchestra, makes frequent visits to Australia. On a number of these occasions, he has fronted up as soloist with the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra. Some of this happy collaboration is now preserved on CD, recently released by the FCO.


Koelman, a formidable soloist, is featured in Saint Saens’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso as well as Havanaise in addition to Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No 2.


Unsurprisingly, Koelman sounded in his element here, adapting to the requirements of each work like fine wine to a goblet. Stylistically impeccable, tonally refulgent, he seems incapable of an ugly sound.


There is a good deal of virtuosity on the part of the soloist but it is never there purely for its own sake. Invariably, it is entirely in context. In this sense, the presentation is in the very best of musical taste and all the more to be recommended for that.


There is clearly an excellent rapport between orchestra and soloist with Jessica Gethin doing sterling work in maintaining momentum and ensuring an equitable tonal balance between soloist and orchestra – and recording engineer Thomas Wearne has come up with the most sound (no pun intended!) result. It’s a recording well worth getting excited about – and for all the right reasons. And there is an extra frisson to the performance, doubtless due to the recording being of live performances before an audience in Fremantle.