Tuesday 19 March 2013

Linda Chatterton flute recital - music by Brian Ciach and Ailis Ni Riain

Linda Chatterton
Linda Chatterton is an American flautist currently giving a series of concerts and master-classes in the UK and Ireland. She started the tour with a lunchtime recital at St. Martin in the Fields, London on Monday 18 March 2013, playing to a considerable audience. Accompanied by pianist Matthew McCright, Chatterton performed an enterprising programme which mixed new and old material with music by Bach, William Grant Still and Francois Borne plus a world premiere by American composer Brian Ciach and a piece by UK-based Irish Composer Ailis Ni Riain which had been commissioned by Chatterton.

Chatterton and McCright started with Bach's Sonata in E flat BWV1031. In the opening Allegro moderato Chatterton displayed a nice warm tone and some fine articulation, but the performance was somewhat compromised by the sheer resonance of the piano, which tended to dominate the sound because of the lively acoustic. The Siciliano was delightfully lilting, followed by a lively Allegro played with a nice sense of line.

Brian Ciach's Kentucky Folk Pieces were a world premiered and were introduced by the composer. The three movements were inspired by the landscape of Kentucky where the composer has just moved. The opening movement was attractively melodic, displaying hints of other composers combined with a lively rhythmic impulse. The piano introduction to the second movement was rather bluesy, though this mood did not persist when the flute came in, but there again plenty of melodic and rhythmic interest. The final movement opened with a hurrying and scurrying in the piano and flute, developing into something rather evocative and eventually a big tune. There were occasional hints of Copland here. I have to confess that I did wonder whether this movement might be slightly too long and would benefit from a slight trimming. The flute part was quite complex and was admirably played by Chatterton, ably supported by McCright.

chainstichembroidered by Manchester-based Irish composer and writer Ailis Ni Riain, was commissioned by Chatterton. The piece is based on a number of piano preludes by the novelist and composer Anthony Burgess. Burgess wrote quite a bit of music which is not generally well known. In turn, Burgess had based the preludes on Bach's Well-tempered Clavier.  Ailis Ni Riain writing was basically tonal but did wander into rather exotic places.Starting with an unaccompanied flute, eventually joined by piano, Ailis Ni Riain had created a fascinating multi-layered piece. Not being familiar with Burgess's original works, it was difficult knowing who started where but there was a big piano part with substantial piano interludes in the multi-movement work. The whole eventually evaporating in a wistful end. This was a piece which I would have liked to explore more. Chatterton explained afterwards that in longer programmes, they would include some of Burgess's original preludes, which I think would be a great help.

The following item was pure crowd pleaser, a delightful Fantasy Brilliante on Themes from Bizet’s Opera ‘Carmen’ by Francois Borne (1840-1920) a French flautist who worked in Bordeaux and Toulouse and is recognised for the technical improvement of the instrument. The work was a pot-pourri, working its way through the various well-known melodies from the opera, each given considerable elaboration in the flute. Chatterton played it very stylishly, she has clearly played the work a lot. It opened with the Habanera, which Chatterton and McCright gave a nice rhythmic feel to, before wandering off in some dazzling flute playing. It was a piece with great charm, and a delight to see what Borne was going to do next to decorate each well known tune.

Finally the played Gamin by William Grant Still (1895 - 1978), one of the major 20th century African-American composers. Gamin mixed in blues influences and even included a rather quirky stride bass in the piano. A lovely discovery.

Throughout the concert Chatterton displayed lovely tone and a fine sense of line, with technical prowess which was always understated, resulting in some involving and intelligent performances. She was admirably supported by McCright in all the various different styles of music.

The duo are performing further recitals in Ireland this week, see Chatterton's website for details.
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