VIAF 2014

Flute and Pianoforte Virtuosity

Yesterday’s evening performance by Kristin Hammerseth on the Flute and Lars Fredrik Nystad on the Pianoforte was a display of virtuosity that belied the very young age of the performers.

Starting with four works on the pianoforte, Lars immediately asserted himself as a virtuoso and versatile performer. Gershwin’s Three Preludes were tackled with gusto, panache and the fantastic rhythmic drive that characterize the works. Alternating fast, slow and fast movements, the Preludes combine the immediate appeal of Gershwin’s longer concert pieces with the tight melodic logic and seeming musical inevitability of his songs. Gershwin here uses harmonies and intervals derived from popular music, treating them with a miniaturistic rigour that may even remind the hearer of Bartók. The performance given was greeted with enthusiasm by the audience.

Debussy’s dreamy Pagodes was in stark contrast to the more robust texture of Gershwin’s miniatures. The pianist passed seamlessly from one style to the other and the mood remained gentle and exotic, although in an alternate guise the theme takes on a muscular demeanor, with belled sonorities loudly ringing out. The piece ended quietly and beautifully atmospheric.

A completely new work to a Gozitan audience was Norwegian composer Tveitt’s Songs from Hardanger, of which opus four lovely lilting pieces were chosen. Misty and dreamy, these delectable songs which in their original form were meant to be sung, came as close to the singing voice as the composer meant them to be. The last solo pianoforte piece was Shchedrin’s Basso Ostinato, a completely different work in style, mood and texture. Asserting his mastery as a very technically-endowed pianist, Lars gave full credit to this work which, over a droning bass developed rhythmically and contrapuntally in an increasingly complex network of sound and colour.

Kristin Hammerseth wooed the audience not only with her beauty but also with her accomplished musicianship and extremely polished performance. Performing Luciano Berio’s very difficult Sequenza no. 1, Kristin came across as a confident performer, in complete control of the technical difficulties that this piece carries with it. The final work on the programme brought the two performers together for Reinecke’s beautiful Sonata for Flute and Pianoforte op. 167, better known as ‘Undine’. A fully-fledged work in four movements, with a hint of a cyclic movement to it, this piece was given a very mature performance by the musicians. A beautiful singing tone and well-rounded sonority were the hallmark, with easeful teamwork between the flutist and the pianist. Worthy of mention is the haunting third movement, an Andante tranquillo, in which the flute takes precedence with a lovingly moulded melody that stretches and reaches around from pitch to pitch, register to register, in the manner of elongated pick-up gestures.

A truly enjoyable evening!