Review: Timeless by Four on Six

Carol Flavell Neist

This duo is worthy of a wider audience.
Review: Timeless by Four on Six

Gillian Catlow  and Charles Hoernemann. Supplied.

Operating freelance in any branch of the arts is difficult, and to have any credibility one must be able to demonstrate a firm grounding in the chosen genre. Husband and wife duo Gillian Catlow (violin) and Charles Hoernemann (guitar) have very impressive backgrounds indeed.

Catlow studied violin under Robert Pikler (Sydney), Sandor Vegh, (Salzburg), Ana Chumachenko (Munich) and chamber music with the Melos Quartet. She was a founding member of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Hoernemann studied at the Luxemburg Conservatorium and the Swiss Jazz School. The pair met through music, and having made it their living and their lifestyle, have settled in Perth. They rarely give concerts, as they are frequently in demand for events such as weddings and school visits. They obviously have a strong following locally, as the cosy little theatre at the Shenton Park Citizens Centre was packed.


However, this duo is worthy of a wider audience. They chose a range of twentieth century music, all transcribed for violin and guitar. Hoernemann brought along three guitars, each one suited to a different style of playing. (I was told that he actually owns more than twenty of them!) Catlow regularly plays on two different violins, chosen to suit the repertoire. They call themselves ‘Four on Six’, which reflects the number of strings on their respective instruments. It is also the name of a jazz tune by Wes Montgomery.

The afternoon was educational as well as entertaining. The performers introduced each item with its history and details of the composers and their work – and the mini-lectures were not tedious, but entertaining and informative.

The list of composers is a who’s who of twentieth century popular music. There were items from the pens of Stéphane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt, Stanley Myers, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Randy Goodman, Richard Galliano and Ennio Morricone (This was, of course, the popular ‘Chi Mai’, which, Hoernemann took pains to explain, is not Japanese but Italian!) It was a particularly interesting arrangement, with passing references to other melodies.

Charles Aznavour’s beautiful and popular ‘She’ was particularly well received, and of course we had to close with a Lennon and McCartney offering – ‘Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night’ There was a well-deserved encore ‘Smile’, and by that time we were floating on a cloud of music and full of the delicious afternoon tea that was served at interval.

I felt as if I’d had a History of Music lecture to update the course I did at Sydney Conservatorium when I was rather – well, let’s be real and say ‘quite a lot’ – younger than I am now. Four on Six is an educational godsend, to say the least, and truly entertaining with it.

Rating: 4 ½ stars ★★★★☆

Presented by Four on Six
Gillian Catlow, violin 
Charles Hoernemann, guitar

8 July 2018
Shenton Park Community Centre, Western Australia

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Carol Flavell Neist  has written reviews and feature articles for The Australian, The West Australian, Dance Australia, Music Maker, ArtsWest and Scoop, and has also published poetry and Fantasy fiction. She also writes fantasy fiction as Satima Flavell, and her books can be found on Amazon and other online bookshops.