Rudolf Koelman is always a welcome visitor to our shores.
Fremantle Chamber Orchestra
Government House Ballroom
REVIEW: NEVILLE COHN
Rudolf Koelman is always a welcome visitor to our shores. As concertmaster during the 1990s of Amsterdam’s legendary Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, which makes its first visit to Perth later this year, Koelman's presence here this month is especially significant.
Certainly, the extraordinary skill which this fine musician brought to bear at the weekend on two of the violin’s toughest challenges confirmed his status as a master of the instrument.
Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen (Gypsy Airs) is a closed book to most violinists. Its demands are ferocious — and Koelman rose to its challenges with sizzling virtuosity, a rock-steady bowing arm and extraordinary agility on the fingerboard.
It was a masterly account which is what one would expect of a former student of the legendary Jascha Heifetz. And under Christopher van Tuinen's ever-reliable direction, the FCO responded with an accompaniment of consistent finesse.
In Ravel's Tzigane, that other gypsy-inspired masterwork for the violin, and no less challenging a masterpiece, Koelman essayed its complexities with the nonchalance of mastery although ensemble between soloist and orchestra occasionally faltered.
After a robust account of the opening allegro of Bizet's Symphony No 1, I particularly liked Van Tuinen's direction of the slow movement, its melodic richness finely underscored by an orchestra and conductor clearly in harmony with the composer's requirements. And the allegro vivace which followed was informed by a delightful buoyancy that transformed it into a joyous paean. Bravo!
On an oppressively hot day, the air-conditioned coolness of Government House Ballroom made this concert a particularly pleasant experience.