Camerata Pacifica. At Victoria Hall, Friday, February 17.

Classical flute players — at least the Irish ones — are really
rock stars. After a suitably rock-like slight delay, the three men
who opened the Camerata Pacifica program on Friday arrived dressed
in all black. Wordlessly the dueling flautists, Adrian Spence and
Colin Fleming, took their positions opposite one another in front
of Warren Jones’s piano. The piece they played, Franz Doppler’s
Valse di Bravura, Op. 33, was full of the kind of technical
virtuosity and showmanship that would make any guitar god green
with envy. The dance between the two instruments became a
fascinating, escalating pattern of intertwining and repeating
lines, by turns lingering and faun-like, then fast and clipped.
Fleming was then left alone in front to play the Sonata for Flute
and Piano in F Major of François Devienne, accompanied by Warren
Jones. Written earlier than the Doppler, and less dramatically
varied in its effects, the Devienne sonata still left many
opportunities for the players to demonstrate subtle mastery.
Fleming was a wonder, his perfect posture rendering him a
light-footed column of air, shifting and swirling at the service of
the music. Next up was a solo spot for the extraordinary Warren
Jones. His recitation of the lyrics from the Liebestod of Wagner’s
Tristan und Isolde was dramatically intense, but then Jones sat
down at the piano and erased every memory except for that of the
music, wringing magnificent effects out of his instrument and
demonstrating why the Liszt transcriptions are a crucial addition
to the modern repertoire. At the end of the piece Jones held the
audience’s attention through the incredibly long sustain of the
final note and beyond, into the silent abyss of Wagner’s tragic
night. The second part of the evening’s program began with
Catherine Leonard and Warren Jones essaying the Sonata for Violin
and Piano in A Minor, Opus 105 of Robert Schumann. The pair likened
the piece to a scene from All About Eve — the moment when Bette
Davis as Margo Channing warns the group, “Fasten your seatbelts,
it’s going to be a bumpy night!” With these performers the ride was
far from bumpy in any literal sense, yet their prediction that the
final movement, “Lebhaft,” would reveal some of the psychological
strife that accompanied Schumann’s later years was right. The
stormy oscillation between near-baroque artfulness and Romantic
passion was rendered with lightning swiftness and thorough
musicality. It’s a privilege to come at the dark distinctions of
Schumann’s composition with these two as guides. Spence and Fleming
returned to render another brilliant duet by Doppler, and the wild
night of the flute was over.


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