Review: Rosanna Ter-Berg and Leo Nicholson at Leighton’s Library Theatre on the 2nd of November 2013

What lifts the spirit more than a bird singing its tiny heart out? The flute engages us like birdsong. Rosanna Ter-Berg, a riveting young flautist, brought to Leighton Buzzard a programme comprising some of the most luscious and best-loved works for the flute, with a little solo piano from her talented accompanist as well.

The theme was mainly French, from around 1850 into the twentieth century. She began with Fantaisie by Hüe (pronounced ‘Who’) , followed by Poulenc’s substantial Sonata for flute and piano, a wonderful mature work of 1956. If you have heard no other piece of flute music you have heard this, and it would take a real Scrooge not to love it.  Next Leo Nicholson let rip with one of Liszt’s fiery re-imaginings of other composers’ music, in this case the Soirées de Vienne, based on Schubertian waltzes. Finally we were introduced to a tiny quirky piece called Sprite by Nunn (a British composer now in his forties), played solo on the piccolo and employing  sounds I’ve never heard conjured from a woodwind before.

The second half began with a short piece by Saint-Saëns, Romance Op 37, his unmistakeable languorous riffs in the piano part allowing the flute to float. The major work of this half was Prokofiev’s Sonata for flute and piano, hailed as a masterpiece immediately when premiered in 1943, despite its surprisingly bucolic sentiment in a time of war. Finally, Suite de Trois Morceaux, by Godard, was a dazzling showpiece: achingly beautiful, technically demanding, becoming a little dirty and jazzy, and finishing with a breathless flourish. We enjoyed a little encore: part of Jeux by Ibert. The piano rippled beneath plaintive calls from the flute, calming the soul for the journey home.


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