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Raphael Wallfisch Masterclass

February 1, 2009 11:30 am
February 1, 2009 12:00 am
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Event Details

Masterclass on Schubert’s ‘Arpeggione’ Sonata.
Sunday 1 February at 11.30 am – Harty Room, QUB Music Building. £5.00

Raphael Wallfisch is committed to and passionate about teaching, and devotes a significant amount of his time to this activity. He is professor of cello at the Zürich Winterthur Konservatorium in Switzerland, and at the Royal College of Music in London.


The Harty Room in the School of Music, QUB was the setting for the Master Class and Recital given by Raphael Wallfisch on Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata. An interested group of cello enthusiasts and supporters gathered as David McCann and David Sloan gave performances of the 1st and 2nd movements of the sonata respectively.

A Master Class is basically a public lesson; the master has to have a real interest in teaching, with quick judgement of the student’s character and ability so that the audience see results. Raphael had this ability and with it a sense of humour and a love for the piece itself giving us a tremendously enjoyable session. Such value at £5!

David McCann (studying under Gregor Horsch in Manchester) gave a convincing and very accurate performance of the 1st movement, but when Raphael started to talk about tempo and asked for it a little faster, the difference in character was remarkable. It danced and sparkled more and, as the master said, some of the technical difficulties were easier at a faster tempo. I would have liked to have heard the whole performance again at this speed, it had delicious possibilities! David was quick at picking up suggestions of fingering and bowing and asked many questions. One could see he was very keen to make every use of this wonderful opportunity.

Raphael was generous with his time and obviously wanted to give David as much help and encouragement as possible, one could see he appreciated David’s talent. He told us that when he knows he has a performance of this piece coming up he uses scales and arpeggios as a major part of his preparation. With a final flourish on the last two pizzicato chords it was time to move onto the 2nd movement with the 2nd David.

Dave Sloan (studying under Robert Irvine in Glasgow) started the Adagio with a delightful piano and terrific bow control. Raphael, complimenting him on the performance afterwards, said: ‘All that slow bow practice was worth it!’ Indeed the 2nd movement requires so much control, rising up over the repetitive quavers of the piano accompaniment. There are all sorts of different colours to explore as the melody soars into the high registers and plumbs the depths of the lower strings, it is truly one of Schubert’s great instrumental songs. Dave demonstrated technical prowess and musicianship as the cello sang its way through.
Raphael suggested tips for the forte-pianos and ornaments which Dave picked up easily and he asked him to make greater use of those wonderfully long fingers to reduce shifting positions. Again one could see Raphael appreciated Dave’s abilities and potential.

So now our appetites were now truly whetted for the Master’s performance. I have to say I was not disappointed. From the moment the 1760 Gennaro Gagliano cello purred into action in the Master’s hands I was spell bound. No wonder Raphael is in such demand all over the world as a performer and teacher! If you weren’t there you really missed a treat.

Congratulations to Cathal Breslin who complimented the whole proceedings on the piano with great sensitivity, but most of all my thanks to the BMS for a wonderful feast of Chamber Music over the whole weekend. Well done to all concerned