Young artists from the Park Lane Group demonstrated talent far beyond their years in the lunchtime concert earlier today, Sprite!
Taking the concert’s name from Patrick Nunn’s puckish and mischievous piece for solo piccolo which appeared in the programme, flautist Rosanna Ter-Berg and pianist Leo Nicholson displayed a degree of technical mastery which was, if you’ll forgive the pun, simply breathtaking in scope.
The programme opened with David Matthews’ Duet Variations, a piece full of rich colours and lush textures that shows Matthews to have a foot equally in both the Romantic and modern traditions. The composer himself, present at the occasion, took to the stage afterwards to receive warm applause.
The première of Thomas Oehler’s Prelude followed; inspired by Debussy’s sets of piano preludes, the title of the piece was printed at the end of the programme; ‘Les yeux du chat, à nuit (The eyes of the cat, at night)’ and was full of supple, lithe figures in both instruments, skirling passages full of feline grace and agility. Oehler himself was also at the concert, and was clearly pleased with the performers’ realisation.
The first solo piece, Turnage’s Tune for Toru for piano, is an elegiac miniature, dedicated to the great Japanese master who died in 1996, and was delivered by Nicholson with thoughtful control. In contrast, Jonathan Harvey’s Nataraja which followed was a treasure-trove of extended woodwind techniques and a tapestry of sounds that reached far beyond that of the normal sound-spectrum typical of works for flute and piano. Ter-Berg delivered the full range of sounds with astonishing accomplishment.
Patrick Nunn’s programme-titling piece is full of impish humour; written 1998 and dedicated to his then six-month old nephew, it bristles with waggish impudence, which was realised in Ter-Berg’s spirited performance.
The most colourful piece, The Colour of Pomegranates by Julian Anderson, displayed Anderson’s trademark rich, sumptuous harmonic palette (heard elsewhere, for instance, in his evocative choral epic, Heaven is Shy of Earth); shimmering textures shrouded the warm sound of the alto-flute, and in a marvellously unpredictable yet effective ending, the final sounds faded away into the sound of birdsong outside the venue, a wonderfully unintended moment of chance. Sky and Water by Emily Howard had one or two effective gestures in its impressionistic textural explorations, and was followed by the final piece, Flute Music with Accompaniment or Solo Flute, in which tiny segments of ideas are developed and extended by both the players, opening out into a broader final section before closing with a small, deft gesture.
The musicians were treated to warm and sustained applause from an enthusiastic full house at St Gregory’s, an acknowledgement richly deserved as the listeners responded to two accomplished young performers, who will surely be ones to watch out for.