Music for flute, viola and harp
from The Wakeford Ensemble
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER
With a line-up of flute, viola and harp, Debussy's Sonata for that combination of instruments is almost certain to be on the programme. But harpist Lucy Wakeford and her two colleagues, Siobhan Grealy and Fiona Bonds also included three other works for the same combination, while ensuring plenty of stylistic contrast (Derby Chamber Music: The Wakeford Ensemble, Multi-Faith Centre, Derby University, Derby, UK, 19 October 2007).
They began with transcriptions of two baroque pieces. Telemann's F major Trio Sonata, originally for treble recorder, viola da gamba and harpsichord, received an elegant performance, followed by the G minor flute and harpsichord Sonata, BWV 1020, once attributed to J S Bach but now thought to be by his son Carl Phillip Emmanuel; this was notable particularly for the rhythmic drive the players brought to the final movement. From near the back of the hall the harp sounded just a bit over-resonant, but I was assured that further forward the balance was fine.
The rest of the programme was from the twentieth century. Bax's Elegiac Trio was given a reading that beautifully caught both the robust and delicate sides of the music's character, with the soft ending particularly well-judged.
Takemitsu's And then I knew 'twas wind was conceived as a companion-piece to the Debussy. It got a compelling performance, alive to the extraordinary subtle shades of instrumental colour Takemitsu draws from the instruments.
In the second flute and harp duo of the evening, William Alwyn's Naiades, Siobhan Grealy and Lucy Wakeford produced an impressive dynamic range, keeping the dance-like sections light on their toes and finding some remarkable moments of stillness.
Finally, the Debussy itself. Here again, vigour and calm were juxtaposed to eloquent effect, and the transparency of the work's sound-world was beautifully realised.
Copyright © 23 October 2007
Mike Wheeler, Derby UK
THE WAKEFORD ENSEMBLE