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Musica Viva’s Perth concert series for 2010

a preview by Neville Cohn

As a child growing up in Cape Town, I recall – as if it were yesterday – being taken by my revered music teacher to a chamber music concert at Temple Hall.

It was a thrilling and unforgettable experience. That performance was one of a series of chamber music concerts given under the auspices of the Concert Club which was run by Hans Kramer and his wife Greta.

Fleeing as refugees from Hitler’s Germany, they arrived on South African shores virtually penniless but they brought with them a deep and abiding love for music. And despite the difficulties inherent in founding and maintaining an annual chamber music series, they persevered until the Concert Club became a crucial part of Cape Town’s music life.

When I settled in Australia, I very soon discovered that the Musica Viva series of chamber music concerts had had much the same genesis as Cape Town’s Concert Club. And over more than a quarter century, I have had the good fortune to attend a plethora of ensemble performances brought here by this great organisation. It’s a priceless musical gift for music followers in Perth.


Among the delights coming Perth’s way this year is a program presented by the superb Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge. Founded more than 450 years ago – yes, in 1538! – this peerless vocal ensemble has enchanted listeners and worshippers all across the world not least through a miscellany of fine recordings. Its program for Perth includes music by Byrd and Tallis as well as music written centuries later – in our time, in fact – by John Tavener and Paul Stanhope.

Pavel Haas was a composer who, like so many other Jewish musicians in Czechoslovakia, was murdered by the Nazis. One of the finest ensembles on the international concert circuit has named itself the Pavel Haas Quartet in tribute to a remarkable composer. The program includes works by Dvorak and Haydn as well as by Stanhope, Musica Viva’s composer in residence.

Aficionados of the piano are in for a treat as British pianist par excellence Paul Lewis will give a recital which includes Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata and works by Mozart, Schumann and Liszt.

v2 PaulLewis_1_©Keith_Saunders

Another delight is The Harp Consort, an Ireland-based ensemble which brings to its concerts an irrepressible joie de vivre to match its sublime musical skills.

Many Perth concertgoers will relish the opportunity to hear pianist Cedric Tiberghien who has dazzled many listeners here, not least through his superb skill as an interpreter of Messiaen. For Musica Viva, he will team up with violinist Alina IBragimova in sonatas by Beethoven and Schumann.



For booking information, please telephone 1800 688 482.

The Galant Bassoon

The Galant Bassoon

The Galant Bassoon

Matthew Wilkie (bassoon)

Neal Peres Da Costa (harpsichord)

Kees Boersma (cello)

TPT: 73’23”

Melba CD MR 301124

reviewed by Neville Cohn


Sonata in E minor RWV41:e5 (Telemann)

Sonata in E minor BWV1030 (J.S.Bach)

Sonata in A minor TWV41:a6 (Telemann)

Sonata in A minor BWV1034 (J.S.Bach)

Sonata in F minor (TWV41:f1 (Telemann)

Sonata in D minor Wq.132 (C.P.E.Bach)


Like the tuba and the double bass, the bassoon could be thought of as one of the cinderellas of music. Instruments such as these have been the butt of innumerable jokes but, played by master musicians, they are capable of an astonishing range of emotion and tone colouring. Years ago, I had the good fortune to attend a recital by Ludwig Streicher that near-legendary master of the double bass. His mastery of that intractable instrument was revelatory.


And like the tuba and the double bass, the repertoire available to the bassoonist is sadly thin. Of the six sonatas on this CD, only one was originally for the bassoon. All the others are transcriptions of sonatas composed for other instruments.


In the opening cantabile in Telemann’s Sonata in E minor, the bassoon produces a flawless ribbon of sound – and in the following allegro, Matthew Wilkie is impressively agile on the instrument and magically adept in tone colouring, although recorded sound has a shade too much echo. In the recitative-arioso, the trio’s corporate tone is everything one could have wished for, although the concluding vivace might have been rather more controlled. Here, there’s some evidence of strain at high speed.


Fans of the flute repertoire could well experience as sense of déjà vu on listening to an arrangement for bassoon of Bach’s much loved Sonata in B minor for flute and harpsichord. How beautifully the first movement unfolds. The concluding presto has been the graveyard of more than a few musical reputations. It is unforgivingly difficult music that requires an iron nerve and a cool head to bring off successfully. It’s triumphantly achieved here. Bravo!


In the opening triste movement of Telemann’s Sonata in F minor, the bassoon seduces the ear with gorgeously dark-hued tone. This is the only sonata on this disc that was originally conceived as a work for bassoon.


In C.P.E.Bach’s fearsomely exposed Sonata in D minor, Wilkie emerges at the end of the ordeal with honour not only intact but enhanced, especially because being unaccompanied, the slightest flaw can become embarrassingly apparent. I particularly liked the skill with which the teasing, insouciant nature of the second movement is conveyed – and there is musicality of the highest order in the concluding allegro.


Wilkie has the incomparable advantage of ensemble partners of exceptional merit. Neal Peres Da Costa at the harpsichord and Kees Boersma on double bass are masters of their art. They and Wilkie bring the stamp of high distinction to this compilation.