ROBERT Cohen and Carole Presland both have a long association with Lake District Summer Music, writes CLIVE WALKLEY.

Robert Cohen first appeared at the festival in 1993 while Carole Presland’s association goes back to her student days. Their recital at Ambleside Parish Church was an example of an artistic partnership at its best.

Robert Cohen opened the programme with the first of Bach’s unaccompanied cello suites. Interpretations of these wonderful works vary widely and as Bach’s original autographs no longer exist, cellists have to rely on the copy made by Bach’s second wife, Anna Magdelena. Beyond the actual notes on the page, and the titles of individual movements, there is little to guide the performer on such matters as phrasing, articulation, speed, dynamics etc. Robert Cohen played the suite with complete mastery as one would expect of such an experienced performer, choosing fairly brisk tempi but successfully bringing out the dance-like character of each movement.

This was followed by a masterly account of Shostakovich’s Cello Sonata. Both performers brought out the qualities of pathos, irony and humour that are all contained in this fine work which is testing for both players.

Then followed Schubert’s glorious Arpeggione Sonata, so rich in melody. Carole Presland’s accompaniment was beautifully expressive and supportive and Robert Cohen brought a wide range of tone colours to his beautifully shaped melodic lines. The concert concluded with a dazzling virtuoso show piece, Buxton Orr’s A Carmen Fantasy, commissioned by Robert Cohen in 1985. As the title suggests, this makes use of tunes from Bizet’s opera Carmen. The display of virtuosity brought prolonged applause from the audience and gave us a chance to hear Faure’s Après un Rêve as a encore, a lovely end to an uplifting evening.

Lake District Summer Music runs until Friday, August 11 when the highly acclaimed Berkeley Ensemble brings the 2017 festival to a terrific conclusion at Ambleside Parish Church (7.30pm).

Box office 01539-742621; online at, or from the festival office at Kendal's Stricklandgate House, 92 Stricklandgate.