Reviews & Testimonials

'Shulah Oliver is also known as a violinist but on the viola she created a remarkable impression for her enormous tone which amplified by a freak acoustic of the church made this concert a uniquely memorable occasion. Indeed, although her accompanist was no reticent partner the viola tone dominated everything in the lyrical and passionate romanticism not only of the Bowen, but also in the central climax of the Vaughan Williams and in the Bridge. Similarly the Eccles Sonata in G minor seemed to assume a romantic patina in the slow movements, which was very enjoyable if not exactly stylistic.

However it was the Bowen I had gone to hear and they did it proud. This was passionate and youthful playing of a passionate and youthful work. In her enthusiastic spoken introduction pianist Glen Ballard mentioned Rachmaninov, and indeed if the Russian master had written a Viola Sonata I can imagine it sound much like this. Possibly the least convincing part of the sonata is the opening to the finale which adopts a slightly twee scherzando manner which proclaims its era, and without the sustained tone of the viola the piano came to the fore. But overall this was very convincing and I look forward to hearing these artists again.

Recital at St James’s Piccadilly
Lewis Foreman “Seen & Heard International”

'It says a lot about the imperturbability of youth that Shulah Oliver, only three years out of RAM, could play the Stanford Concerto as if she’d been performing it for years. She proved to be a very persuasive advocate for this glorious work, and her performance tonight was a triumph.

The four great British Violin Concertos written before 1945 are those of Elgar (1910), Somervell (1930), Havergal Brian (1935) and Moeran (1942). That Ms Oliver has everything required to give any of these works life – she played the Somervell a couple of years ago – was on abundant display. The ease with which she played the Stanford was breath taking. 
I love Stanford’s music and am pleased that tonight we were treated to a masterpiece in a worthy performance.'

Soloist with Hitchin Symphony Orchestra
Bob Briggs - Music Web International

'…Sunday saw the remaining two recitals. The first, at 3 pm, contained Boughton’s two string quartets performed by The Astaria Quartet (Leader: Shulah Oliver). These young players brought a freshness of approach to these two pieces which was, frankly, a revelation. No one listening to their performances could doubt that here was music of great beauty, of serious intent, of masterly realisation.

Finally, at 8 pm, Shulah Oliver (Violin), Harriet Jeffery (Violoncello) and Simon Marlow (Pianoforte) performed Boughton’s Sonata for Violoncello and Pianoforte, followed by the Sonata for Violin and Pianoforte. These performances were possibly the highlights of the Festival. Harriet Jeffery’s interpretation of the ‘Cello Sonata was quite simply sensational. She was fully committed, had a complete understanding of the piece and her technique and musicianship enabled her to be fully in command throughout the performance.  It was a hard act to follow but the Violin Sonata is a different kettle-of-fish, a bigger piece a more metaphysical piece. Shulah brought it off wonderfully. She has a big tone and a commanding technique and, ably accompanied by Simon, she gave a performance which was full of insight into the music. It was a superb account.'

Recitals at The Rutland Bougton Festival 2010
Paul Rooke – Artistic Director, The 2010 Rutland Boughton Festival

'Despite her youth, violinist Shulah Oliver is mature beyond her years. There is a warm tone, sustained control when it comes to fast runs and double stopping, and even when she ‘retakes’ the bow for successive chords, control is poignant.

At her Worcester Festival recital at the Commandery, even during the plucking there was energy and lyricism. During the delivery of Fritz Kreisler’s Recitativo and Scherzo, there was great co-ordination between bow and finger work. As she herself recognised, there was method in her ‘madness’ (her words, not mine), when she played Bach’s Prelude from Partita in E major on the balcony and then back directly in front of the audience played a piece that takes the first few notes of this movement followed by more ‘avant-garde’ motifs and gestures. Oliver also aptly demonstrated her ‘on-the-bridge-sound’ and use of her mute.

As this was an all solo recital, I couldn’t help wondering what Shulah Oliver would sound like with a piano accompaniment.'

Recital at The Worcester Festival
Lucas Ball - Worcester News

 'This was a joint musical effort of such exquisite poise and beauty it will arguably, in years to come, go down in the annuals as a major work in the English tradition.
There was some great work by local musicians but Shulah Oliver was truly outstanding. Her achingly beautiful viola and violin solo work reached down into the very depths of the soul.

This concert – the world premiere was held earlier that day – now sets the benchmark for musical quality and quantity in Worcestershire.'

Joint Recital at Three Choirs Festival
John Phillpott – Worcester Journal

'So many people who were in the audience on Friday evening have told me how very much they enjoyed your concert, that I felt a strong necessity to write to thank you for initiating the whole idea and for giving so much pleasure. You have an excellent way of communicating with your audience which is very much appreciated. John and I have the pleasure of listening to one of your discs, with your accompanist, the repertoire of English composers – fascinating. '

Recital at Adforton Village Hall
Anne Voysey – Chairman of the Adforton Village Committee
'Joseph Middleton (piano) and Shulah Oliver (violin) performed a well balanced programme to an approving audience. Starting with Arnold's Five Pieces for Violin and Piano, with its jazz-like syncopated rhythms and chromatic influences, they explored a modern side of the violin. The sudden changes from the forceful proclamations to more delicate accompaniment demonstrated Middleton's great command over his instrument. These musicians blended beautifully, allowing the give and take of a duet to heighten the experience of the Mozart Sonata in A K526, gently passing the tune from one to the other. Throughout the range of the instrument Oliver demonstrated her skill, from the mournful lower passages of the Debussy Sonata for Violin and Piano, to the agile rhythmic intensity of the audience's favourite - Ravel's Tzigane. Here she escorted us from the playful innocence of a gipsy dance to hugely complicated virtuoso playing.
Only receiving a mere 20 minutes to practice at the venue it must be wondered what could be achieved if our country's transport system were as good as they.'

Recital at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival
The Eastern Daily Press

'Rimsky-Korsakov tests any orchestra with imagination throughout all of his music. None less so than in his symphonic suite Scherezade based on exotic Arabian Nights.

Individuals throughout the orchestra have much to offer, but none less that professional guest leader, Shulah Oliver, who played heart-stopping Scheherezade themes with exquisite conviction.'

Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra
Maggie Cotton - Birmingham Post