Tag Archives: Violinist




Taryn Fiebig (soprano)

Mark Coughlan (piano)

Hale Auditorium

reviewed by Neville Cohn


If William Walton’s song cycle A Song for the Lord Mayor’s Table had been the only work on the program presented by Taryn Fiebig and Mark Coughlan, it would have been an altogether satisfying evening.


Had the shade of the composer hovered over proceedings at Hale Auditorium, it would surely have nodded approval at the performance of his song cycle.


From first note to last, this was a reading to savour with its complete identification with the score by  both musicians. The words were sung with a very real understanding of style – and the piano part could hardly have been bettered. It was a model of its kind.


Walton’s cycle is fiendishly difficult to bring off in both physical and interpretative terms – but on both counts the two musicians came through with banners flying. It was offered with splendid flair, the high point of the recital, not least for the exhilaration that informed so much of the more extravert songs in the cycle.

  Photo Credit: Steven Godbee



Also on the program were a bracket of lieder by Schubert as well as Samuel Barber’s Knoxville Summer of 1915. The latter was less persuasive due primarily to some less than clear diction. It lacked the fine focus that made the Walton cycle so satisfying. And of the Schubert bracket, it was Die Manner sind mechant (in which a young woman complains to her mother about her boyfriend’s roving eye) that came across best; it was a miniature delight.


Unintentionally, Taryn Fiebig has joined the ranks of that small group of artists who perform bare feet. Like the extraordinary flamenco dancer La Chunga and Rumanian violinist extraordinaire Patricia Kopachinskaja, Fiebig came on stage sans footwear which, she explained, was the unwanted outcome of playing with her pet dog. This resulted in a fall and broken toes which precluded the use of footwear.

Dvorak: Violin Concerto: Legends opus 59



Richard Tognetti (violin)



Nordic Chamber Orchestra



Christian Lindberg (conductor)

TPT: 70’17”






reviewed by Neville Cohn




By most accounts, Dvorak was a gruff, no-nonsense sort of character who didn’t suffer fools gladly. But insofar as the composition of his Violin Concerto is concerned, he demonstrated a forbearance that verged on the saintly. He’d been commissioned to write the work by Fritz Simrock, he of the famous firm of music publishers.


Dvorak, himself a violinist of ability, demonstrated humility in sending the score to Joseph Joachim, the greatest violinist of his day. In response to Joachim’s suggestions, Dvorak completely rewrote the work but when he sent the new version to Joachim, the latter took an incredible two YEARS to deliver his verdict.


His comments were largely negative. The work, he opined, was not yet ready for performance, the orchestration too dense. Had Dvorak at this point thrown up his hands in despair and abandoned the project, it would have been understandable. But, saint-like, he laboured on. Then, a Simrock employee found further fault. Here, though, Dvorak drew the line – and the concerto was finally published. Intriguingly, Joachim never ever played the concerto.


Soloist Richard Tognetti is in fine fettle here. In the opening allegro ma non troppo, he expresses Dvorak’s ideas in altogether convincing, toughly assertive terms. And how beautifully the soloist phrases the themes of the slow movement with notes clothed in tone of the most agreeable kind.


Throughout, conductor Christian Lindberg presides over events with understated authority. And the folksy, cheerful ideas of the finale, with their obeisance to some of Dvorak’s much loved Slavonic dances, could hardly have been better presented. I cannot imagine anyone failing to fall under the spell of this engaging music.


Dvorak’s Legends will never supplant his Slavonic Dances in the hearts and minds of an international constituency but  they are still well worth an occasional airing. And they are beautifully played here. 

Transcendent Love – The Passions of Wagner and Strauss

Lis Gasteen, soprano

West Australian Symphony Orchestra

Simone Young, conductor

ABC Classics 476 6811

TPT: 73’41”

reviewed by Neville Cohn

Let it be said at once that soprano Lisa Gasteen is ideally suited to this repertoire. She has those qualities of heart and mind essential to essay works of this kind – and she has, crucially, the ability to effortlessly ride the crest of the accompanying orchestral wave no matter how substantial that might be. I especially admired the skill and expressiveness with which she sang Traume, the first of Wagner’s famous Wesendonck Lieder, with a gently pulsing accompaniment a fine counterpoint to the vocal line. At cycle’s end, incidentally, Traume is repeated, this time with the vocal line played with commendable sensitivity by violinist John Harding who, at the time, was concertmaster of the WASO. Gasteen is equally convincing in three of Richard Strauss’ lieder: Zueignung, Heimliche Aufforderung and Allerseelen. Stylewise, they are beyond criticism.

For this listener, however, the chief joy of this recording – and this is said with all due acknowledgement of Gasteen’s formidable artistry – is the quality of string playing of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. In this sense, the most rewarding offering of the compilation is a splendidly presented Prelude to Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.

Here, the strings are in particularly memorable fettle, producing a uniformity of tonal sheen that lifts the performance to a special category of excellence. Here, as throughout, Simone Young presides over events with wondrous skill as she coaxes her forces to ever more meaningful effect, not least in finely sustained phrase lines. This is yet another demonstration of Young’s quite extraordinary ability to take her forces to levels which, in the ordinary course of events, the players themselves might have considered unattainable.

This was such persuasive playing that,  if the  shade of Wagner himself had hovered over the  proceedings, it might well have nodded its approval of both Young and the WASO. There is also a thoroughly worthwhile performance of Strauss’ Metamorphosen.

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.