FringeReview UK 2018
Sussex Flutes – Anne Hodgson, Victoria Hancox, Sue Gregg, Nicole Leclerq and Marielle Way perform at All Saints in music by Vaughan Williams, Peter Copley, Telemann, Barry Mills, Ian Clarke and Rimsky-Korsakov.
Anne Hodgson, Victoria Hancox, Sue Gregg, Nicole Leclerq and Marielle Way have been performing as Sussex Flutes for long enough to have commissioned pieces by well-known composers.
They’re a consummate quintet, and bring that special brightness we associate with some baroque and French repertoire. It turns out British composer have really responded to this combination – especially dedicated flute composers like the last billed here, Ian Clarke, whose Maya closes the concert.
First up Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Greensleeves (which happened t be the playlist anchor on Radio 3 today) allows VWs’ original stratospheric pastoral an even purer manifestation of that sound, in melting evocations of the medieval tune Henry VIII claimed: he did write a hit at eighteen – but not this one. It allows you to feel the lyric wind instrument core to this miniature masterpiece first aired in his 1928 opera Sir John in Love.
Peter Copley’s very well known as a composer, with much on CD. Two Sussex Flute Tunes allow ‘Robin Hood and the POedlar’ and ‘Not Rolling in the Dew’ to breathe out an evocative, playful but essentially summery reading of these folk tunes, edged with modal and other local colour. They’re beguiling and wholly approachable.
Telemann’s Quartet in d minor is from his 1724 Paris set, and designed for that capital, the home fo the flute for centuries. It’s a profound piece, digging in with a bright vivace and allegro but prefacing each with a soulful andante and third of these movements, a Largo of real expressive power, weight and not a little pathos. It was perhaps the most profound moment in the concert. Sussex flutes are as ever consummate. Here they’re affecting and communicate without any light gauze: it;’s pure baroque melancholy on modern isntruments.
Pierre Max Dubois (1930-1995) s a comspoer I don’t know. His piece could have been written the eyar he was born. His Flute Quartet with its brezzy Fetes, it’s Paspied – that rapid slip-footed dance, the lyrical eddying Comlainte and very baroque Tambourine (which works as a war dance) are as French baroque as you could wish with a dash of the 19th century. It’s an attractive, not stunningly memorable but evocative piece with atmospheres far removed from the baroque too.
Barry Mills is pretty famous now. He composed Slieve Galllion Braes for the ensemble, and it shows. A lament for expropriation it evokes the folk-tune associated with it in a long loving look at the countryside in a wash of vibrato-led lyricism, then drifting in the lyric cry over the texture as if from afar, then developing it. It ends in peace, a quiet grief. It’s quite beautiful, with a dark core of remembrance.
Finally Ian Clarke’s Maya again spirals up vibrati and a kind of melos in attractive and ingenious ways gently refining the texture till it circles down, gyrates and stops. It’s a fine signing-off, and a piece by now well-known in flute circles in several guises. And then.. as encore Rimsky’s The flight of the Bumble Bee (like the first piece, from an opera, Tsar Sultan) reminding us that Russia could be the home of speed and not always dark allegros. Beautifully consummate, with memorable repertoire, they’re a unique group who should be selling discs.