FringeReview UK 2019
Katrin Heymann (flute) Rob Campkin (violin) Evelina Ndlovu (piano) played Telemann’s Sonata in A minor, Ian Clarke’s Orange Dawn and Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro in A flat, Op 70 of 1849 before Martinu’s Flute Violin and Piano Trio H254.
The line up of flute violin and piano is one kind of flute trio, though some use a cello. It’s a bright-toned sonority, very much in synch with the flute’s high tone. And with the focus on Martinu’s flute trio at the end with his energetic writing very much centre stage, the rest of the programme was built round it.
Katrin Heymann (flute) Rob Campkin (violin) Evelina Ndlovu (piano) played Telemann’s Sonata in A minor, Ian Clarke’s Orange Dawn and Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro in A flat, Op 70 of 1849 before coming to the main attraction last: Martinu’s Flute Violin and Piano Trio H254.
Telemann’s Sonata in A minor is an attractive but introspective piece, one of those darker pieces that should really establish Telemann as one of the baroque greats more clearly. It’s alternating slow-fast movements involve a fine integration of main instrument and continuo. Melancholic fleetness seems a preserve of this composer, and the trio clearly relish its brisk decorations as well as its sudden dips to something dark and blinkingly profound.
Ian Clarke’s Orange Dawn is a gently ululating piece, an idiom with modern spurs to it but mostly mellifluous, as befits a composer noted for his compositions around the flute. The brief pointilistic flourish of the piano is washed over by an intense melodic flourish, languid but strong as the ostinatos of the piano accompaniment hits home and the violin, added as an obbligato make something of the melodic space between them. It’s an ecstatic six-minute piece, tuneful and sing a variety of flute techniques including some circular breathing to create a double flute effect. It swiftly rises to a virtuosic climax then drifts with imnplicit variations.
Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro in A flat, Op 70 of 1849 was written originally for horn and piano, but Schumann arranged it for violin, or cello with piano, and the viola’s often been used. Though a duo this trio arrangement worked well since there’s been flute versions but this one with a violin taking some of the material makes enormous sense. Schumann often referred to Eusebius and Florestan his Gemini division of reflective and exuberant sides. This piece fits that description in his chamber works more clearly than anything since his 1830s piano pieces. The slow winding up of the Adagio – originally entitled ‘Romance’ finds release in the exuberant Allegro with its almost stretto-like flourishes taken mainly on the flute and hammered in the piano part.
Martinu’s Flute Trio is the justification for all these arrangements. Dating from 1936 it’s a work dating from just before his big symphonic phase and exile, and around the time he wrote his surreal opera Julietta. Martinu loved this kind of sonority and wrote another Trio for flute cello and piano in 1944.
This work begins brightly with a flourish and flowing melodic ideas – Martinu’s one of the most rhythmically gifted composer of the 20th century. Up there with Stravinsky, with ostinato figures to the fore, recurring themes and bright jazzy syncopations left over from his Paris period; which includes naturally some neo-classical gestures. There’s a chirpy edge to much of his music, and no wonder the flute figures in many of his chamber compositions. The first movement’s a typical lively Allegro, with a secondary melody on the piano. The flute traverses a wasteland of melancholy during the Adagio second movement, a profound, moon-blanched landscape. Then the perky Allegretto scherzo-and-trio flute-dominated movement with its more intense rhythmic figures. Finally the Moderato finale recalls the earlier movements with a tang of Prokofiev, though succeeded by a romantic melodic flute episode; and a few eddies of recalling its depths.
This trio are consummate in balance and sonority, Katrin Heymann’s creamy flexible flute is a delight. Rob Campkin’s violin is expressive and blends with the flute in its vertiginous sonance memorably. Evelina Ndlovu’s pianism is driven and subtle where it needs to be, with nice gradations in quiet passages. Unexpected repertoire, played with panache and sensitivity.