The Enchanted Flute
On Saturday 5th of March, the audience at Theme & Variations Piano Services were delighted by a unique and thought-provoking selection of French and Australian music. Performing were renowned artists Melissa Doecke on flute and Mark Isaacs on piano as part of their Australian Tour – ‘The Enchanted Flute’.
The program began with one of Isaacs own compositions, a Sonatine dedicated to Shakimra – Isaacs’ sister-in-law. The piece grabbed the audience with a dark and lyrical opening, setting the stage for the rest of the program. In three contrasting movements the Sonatine captured many different characters and moods, from the reflective to the energetic.
The Dutilleux Sonatine for Flute and Piano followed. A standard of the flute repertoire, the piece is demanding both technically and musically for both flute and piano. Finishing with an animated and frenzied accelerando from both instruments, the high-intensity ending was certainly a favourite with the guests!
Individual works by Isaacs, Edwards and Poulenc set the rest of the program and certainly demonstrated consummate mastery from both performers. The standout feature for me was the number of colours both instrumentalists were able to ‘serve-up’. Each plate had a different flavour, a different texture and a different aftertaste! The palette of timbres available was a kaleidoscope of sound, all tailored with control and artistry. Finishing the program with another favourite in the flute repertoire was the Sonata for Flute and Piano by Poulenc – a cheeky, intense and satisfying way to complete a wonderful program.
Just as one thought the program could not get any better, a much anticipated encore was performed – an arrangement of Debussy’s most famous Arabesque in E major, a fitting addition to the French theme. Composed when Debussy was still in his twenties, the piece elegantly wanders through various modes and keys, evoking calm and peaceful images of beautiful ballet dancers. Having feasted on such tantalising delights from France and Down Under, the audience had nothing but praise to share as they left the showroom.
As the audience filtered out of the showroom and before the piano was finally put ‘to bed’, Isaacs sat down to play Chopin’s sublime Nocturne Op.27 No.2 in D Flat Major. Played for no other reason than personal enjoyment, Isaacs exquisitely executed one of Chopin’s most well known (and very difficult) works with all the tenderness and finesse that the piece requires. A stunning Polish ‘night-cap’ after a French-Australian banquet!
By Andrew Rumsey