Concert Review: Piano And Flute Recital/ Tedeschi And Walker

Recital of music for piano and flute

Simon Tedeschi and Sally Walker

Hunters Hill Music

Hunters Hill Town Hall

13 June, 2021

Flautist extraordinaire Sally Walker teamed up with acclaimed award-winning pianist Simon Tedeschi for a soirée presented by Hunters Hill Music in a program built around the concept of miniatures. As Walker explained in her dialogue with the audience, this was an “uplifting pandemic program which aimed to freeze a small moment of happiness.”

The miniatures came from all around the world but setting the template were French pieces by Gabriel Fauré and Erik Satie – Fauré’s Fantaisie op. 79, used as an examination piece by the Conservatoire de Paris in 1898, 1916 and 1925, and the exquisite Sicilienne, Op. 78, composed in 1893 and originally an unperformed orchestral piece. The Sicilienne was later arranged by Fauré for cello and piano in 1898. Satie’s Gymnopédies 1 and 3 followed, with Tedeschi lengthening the tempo of the No. 1 in a piano solo followed by a duo version of the No. 3 – the flute perfectly encapsulating the elegance and lucence of this late 19th century style.

The French flair continued into the 20th century with Philippe Gaubert’s Madrigal. A distinguished flautist, conductor and composer whose appointments included Professor of flute at the Paris Conservatoire and principal conductor of the Paris Opéra. Walker and Tedeschi revelled in his exemplary writing for flute and piano.

A composer writing for the instrument at which they are adept is as special as a piece written especially for a performer. Walker and Tedeschi tossed French restraint aside in the passionate teasing of Milonga del Serafin which was written especially for Sally Walker in 2001 by Argentinian composer Coco Nelegatti. Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is another piece which has become synonymous with its performer and Tedeschi’s arrangement for piano was warmly received.

Combining a busy schedule of teaching and performing, mainly in Sydney, Newcastle and Canberra, Sally Walker has done much to champion the flute and its repertoire – established and new. The second half of the program contained pieces composed for the flute and included the Entr’acte to Act III from Bizet’s Carmen, Elena Kats-Chernin’s Chatterbox Rag commissioned by Walker for a “cheeky” 16-year-old student of hers, aptly played on the piccolo and in a return to the French genre, two pieces by Poulenc, one discovered in 2000 Un Joueur de flute berce les ruines and the popular Sonata for Flute and Piano.   

In this mix were pieces written for piano and violin but transcribed for flute. A Romanze by Max Reger, for piano and “violin (or flute),” Amy Beach’s Romance (piano and violin) and Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel, the tintinnabular duet written for piano and violin, but adapted for many other combinations. The pairing of a tinkling piano, requiring a vastly different touch to Gershwin’s jazzy chords and pounding rhythms with the dusky alto flute in a transcription made by the composer, where the melody sings over diatonic scales, was a truly mesmerising experience.

There was a gracious return for an encore – Percy Grainger’s arrangement of Londonderry Air, bringing the soirée to a close. Interspersed with vignettes about their own musical journeys and their longstanding collaboration, Walker and Tedeschi performed on instruments so different in timbre and sound production but which contrast and complement each other so well in their hands. Simon Tedeschi proved himself to be as skilful an ensemble player as he is a soloist and Sally Walker is, I believe, Australia’s best flautist.

Shamistha de Soysa for SoundsLikeSydney©

Image Peter Hislop

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