Events Tickets

Sunday 17th February 2019 at 3.30pm

St. Iberius Church, Wexford


Miriam Roycroft, cello

Lance Coburn, piano



Martinů: (1890-1959)  Nocturnes H. 189, Four studies for Cello and Piano 

  • Andante moderato


    1. Lento
  • Moderato
  • Allegretto moderatoMartinů composed more music for cello and piano than any major composer since Beethoven.  Sadly, many of these works remain virtually unknown. As a teenager, Martinů was incredibly interested in French impressionist music and he would spend hours analysing new works.  With a small scholarship from the Ministry of Education, Martinů spent the period from 1923 to 1940 in Paris.  There he sought out Albert Roussel, who would become his teacher and mentor.


  1. Written in 1930, and dedicated to Karel Koštál, the ‘Quatre Nocturnes’, came at a time in his life when the cello caught Martinů’s interest. The Nocturnes are described as four pieces for cello with piano accompaniment.  They display a real folk-music blend with Martinů’s distinctive jazz-influenced rhythms, effects and colours much in evidence, asymmetric in the rhythm of the first piece. The second marked Lento, proceeds to a passage of cello chords, after the opening chords of the piano. A tender melody lies at the heart of this nocturne, before the return of the figuration of the opening. The third piece is equally evocative in its sustained melodic writing for the cello and the fourth opens with pizzicato in the cello, before the forward impetus of the bowed passage that follows. The plucked notes of the opening return in conclusion.
  2. During this time, Martinů’s music evolved enormously due to the many different stylistic influences he encountered, including jazz, neoclassicism, and surrealism.  Martinů was becoming increasingly interested in Baroque music but there was also a pull towards the folk music of his Czech homeland.


Beethoven: Sonata Op.69 in A major

  • Allegro ma non troppo
  • Scherzo: Allegro molto
  • Adagio cantabile – Allegro vivace



The Third Cello Sonata in A major is the most performed of Beethoven’s five sonatas for the instrument. It was composed during the highly productive year of 1808 which also saw the composition of the Violin Concerto, the two piano trios of op. 70 and the completion of both the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies.

Like the traditional 18th century and early 19th century sonata, it has three movements. However, the typical slow middle movement is replaced by a scherzo. The first movement begins with the cello alone playing a lyrical subject answered later by the piano. This principal theme and its subsidiary ideas are treated contrapuntally throughout the movement. The following scherzo, in the tonic minor, makes use of a syncopated main theme and a lyrical trio that is heard twice. The last movement is preceded by an Adagio introduction in the key of E major, making up for the lack of a proper slow movement. It soon gives way to the lighthearted and energetic A major Allegro which forms the remainder of the finale.     (With thanks to Joseph DuBose)


Falla (1876-1946): Suite Popular Española

  • El paño moruno
  • Nana
  • Canción
  • Polo
  • Austuriana
  • Jota



Manuel de Falla, born in Cadiz in 1871, is today perhaps the most famous exception to the general rule that the best known “Spanish” music was written by Frenchmen such as Bizet, Debussy, Chabrier and Ravel. Falla studied initially in Madrid, but on the advice of his teachers moved to Paris in 1907 where he met many of the composers who had an influence on his style. King Alfonso XIII of Spain granted him a stipend to stay in Paris, where he gradually developed his mature style. In 1914 at the request of a Spanish singer, he completed a set of songs for soprano and piano, which he called Siete canciones populares Españolas, but declined to allow them a first performance in Paris because he found French audiences preferred Spanish music written by their own composers.


The songs returned to Madrid with Falla when he was forced to leave France after the outbreak of the First World War, and they received their first performance in 1915 in Madrid, as something of a homecoming celebration for the composer. Following his return, Falla wrote most of the orchestral music for which he is now remembered, and instrumentalists identified the songs as good material for arrangements for them to play. Ten years later, Polish violinist Paul Kochanski reworked six of the songs for violin and piano, and a year or two later, French cellist Maurice Maréchal produced the version of the Suite for cello and piano, which we are going to hear this afternoon.

The six pieces reflect images of Seville, Andalusia, Asturias, and Aragon.


Chopin (1810-1849): Cello Sonata

  • Allegro moderato
  • Scherzo: Allegro con brio
  • Largo
  • Finale: Allegro



Chopin’s Cello Sonata represents an extraordinary effort on the part of a composer who, only a few years from the end of his life, determined to master a genre he had never before attempted. Only five chamber works by Chopin exist; three of them are for cello and piano. In poor health and the middle of an anguished breakup with George Sand, Chopin found it within himself to labour extensively on this work, making numerous sketches and revisions. “…with my cello sonata I am now contented, now discontented.” The result is a grand sonata on a scale with Chopin’s most serious and significant works. A big, virtuosic cello part is counterbalanced by masterful piano writing in which Chopin never compromises his unique style.

The first movement often gives the sense of having been improvised at the piano. In the second movement Scherzo Chopin initially uses a rhythmically assertive approach. However, he then considerably varies the mood, including material inspired by waltz-like dances. The third movement is brief and quite gentle. The Finale combines something like the bravura virtuosity of Chopin’s earliest works with the idiosyncratic update of that style he had recently accomplished in his “heroic” piano works.


This was the last work published during Chopin’s lifetime. It was also the work he performed at his final public concert, in 1848. He performed it with his friend, cellist August Franchomme, for whom it was written and to whom it is dedicated


The artists


Dublin born Miriam Roycroft studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester with Ralph Kirshbaum and Don McCall where she was awarded numerous prizes for cello and chamber music.  Upon graduation she won the Muriel Taylor Cello Competition in London and was a prizewinner in the Royal Overseas League which led to many appearances as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Britain.  She was a founder member of the Music Group of Manchester.   Further studies included a period in Banff, Canada, at the renowned Banff Centre for the Arts with Aldo Parisot.


Miriam has appeared as a soloist with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and has played most of the major concerti for cello with orchestras throughout the UK and Ireland. She has been a guest leader of the cello sections of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Northern Sinfonia and has also guest co-led the cello sections of the London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Concert Orchestra. Miriam is currently principal cello of Camerata Ireland with whom she has toured America, China and Europe.  She played at the Music in Great Irish Houses Festival in June 2008 as part of the Festival Cello Octet with the American cellist, Steven Doane. During 2017-19, Miriam and pianist Lance Coburn are performing the entire compositions for cello and piano by Martinů at Dublin’s Hugh Lane Gallery.


Miriam has taught at the Junior School of the Royal Northern College of Music and the Leeds College of Music for many years. She was also a member of the Orchestra of Opera North in Leeds and has coached the lower string section of the National Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ireland.  She joined the String Faculty of the RIAM in Dublin in September 2006.


Miriam plays on a modern cello by Grubaugh and Seifert which she commissioned in 2004.

Since winning 1st prize at the Tomassoni International Piano Competition, Cologne in 2001, Lance Coburn has performed in Austria, Germany, Italy, Greece, Israel, Russia, United States, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and Korea as both concerto soloist and recitalist. He has performed with the Central Florida, the Israel and Sydney Symphony Orchestras, the RTE National Symphony and Hibernian Orchestras in Dublin, and most other Australian Orchestras.


Blessed with a dazzling technique and innate musicianship, and charismatic performance flair, Lance also broadcasts frequently for radio Deutsche Welle, BBC Radio 3, Lyric FM (Ireland) and ABC FM (Australia).


Lance has also been the recipient of many other first prizes, including the Hephizibah Menuhin Scholarship, the inaugural Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition, and the Australian Young Performers’ Award (Keyboard Section), culminating in a performance of Liszt’s 1st Piano Concerto with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, in the Sydney Opera House, which was also broadcast live across Australia on ABC Television.


Beginning his studies in his homeland of New Zealand, Lance furthered them in Australia, the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, Moscow and finally with John O’Conor at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.


He enjoys an active freelance career as a solo performer, chamber musician and accompanist. He is also a full time staff member of the keyboard faculty in the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Lance lives in Dublin with his wife and two children.