Opening Gala Concert with Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway
The gala concert featuring Sir James and Lady Jeanne Galway was the perfect opener to a week long of concerts, and it featured the "classics" such as Chaminade's Concertino, Widor's Suite, Faure's Fantasie, and Doppler's Andante and Rondo. It is always refreshing to hear these pieces played, as they are some of the first flute pieces many of us learn, so the opportunity to hear them played by a master is very special.
Pianist, Catherine Rechsteiner was the dazzling pianist who provided an elegant support to Sir James Galway's ravishing flute.
Sir James' Chaminade was sparkling and energetic, and the public really enjoyed listening to his beautiful execution of the Widor Suite. Of course, seeing the couple play together as a duo is always something special. Their performance of Doppler's Andante and Rondo was beautifully flowing and perfectly in sync with each other, much like the couple in person!
--Andrea "Fluterscooter" Fisher
Juliette Hurel and Lorna McGhee Recital
Juliette Hurel www.juliettehurel.com concert soloist and solo flutist with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra opened the concert, accompanied by the excellent pianist Catherine Rechsteiner. She played two works by Saint-Saens, the Romance and the Odelette, op.162
The Odelette is new to me, a very lovely piece and Ms Hurel played it with the perfect combination of sounds-- projecting, shining and molding the music and with beautiful color and shape within the lines. The second piece on the program was the Poulenc Sonata, which she played with just the right balance between playful and serious, in perfect style for this piece. The tempo in the 3rd movement took my breath away!!
Hurel is a beautiful, imaginative player, who connects with her audience with beauty and joy.
Lorna McGhee- www.lornamcghee.com
Scottish born Lorna McGhee is the principal flutist with the Pittsburgh Symphony, and before immigrating to the US was the co-principal flute of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. She performed (with wonderful pianist Kamelia Miladinova) a very interesting and unusual program. The opening piece is by Dick Kattenburg, a Dutch, Jewish composer who died at age 24 in Auschwitz. To learn a bit more about him check out this article: http://www.allmusic.com/blog/post/collateral-damage-dick-kattenburg-1919-1944/ It’s a great addition to the repertoire of Entartete Musik (degenerate music).
The piece is a terrific, with jazz and movie music influences, idiomatic for the flute and full of joy and good cheer. Lorna brought the work to life with her powerful sound and joyous playing.
The next piece by Maurice Ravel was Sonate, Opus Posthume, which was published posthumously but written when Ravel was 22 years old. Ravel here seems to be just finding his voice, you can hear little buds of his later music in this lyrical piece. The final work on the program was Chaconne by Tomaso Antonio Vitali, a work for violin, transcribed for flute. McGee brought down the house with her stellar virtuosity, beautiful, powerful sound and amazing violinistic “downbows”.
The two closed the concert with a Mendelssohn duet, and it was a joy to hear these two players matching their sounds and musicianship in this quiet, lyrical work.
Philipp Jundt, Shengqi He, and Paolo Taballione
With the first notes of Enesco’s "Cantabile et Presto," flutist Philipp Jundt and pianist Catherine Rechsteiner won the audience over with their expert musicianship. Jundt played with exemplary musicality and immaculate artistry. Rechsteiner’s lyricism on piano beautifully matched Jundt’s refined and graceful lines, the fusion of the two performers kept the audience entranced from the lyrical beginning to the captivating end.
For the "Fantasie No. 1 in A Major" by Georg Philipp Telemann, Jundt boldly brought out a wooden flute, introducing a different tone to one of the flute repertoire's standard pieces, masterfully playing with consummate grace and elegance. Then he delivered an equally adventurous rendition of the "Fantasie No. 1 in A Major" by David Philip Hefti to finish his recital. The vibrant and eclectic performance energized the audience and brought an immediate and well-deserved standing ovation.
Shengqi He presented the works of composers from his homeland of China. The first piece, "Beautiful Taxkorgan" by Fang Dinghao, reminded the listener of rhythmic tunes from the sweeping landscapes of Central Mongolia. Shengqi He and pianist Dearbhla Brosnan played off of each other with vibrant and charming rhythms. "Fisherman’s Song at Sunset" by Li Guoquan was a lyrical and moving piece played with equally expressive passion.
"Sonatina, The Morning" by Tian Baoluo was the perfect piece to present as a finale to his portion of the concert. Shegqui He and Dearbhla Brosnan played beautifully together. The audience's enjoyment of the repertoire and the wonderful artistry of the the duo was palpable.
Paolo Taballione and Catherine Rechsteiner made a magnificent duo. Taballione started his recital with Lowell Lieberman’s Sonata. His sound commenced with pressing impatience, and little by little he unleashed a dragon from within, complete with fire and the power to awe.
The "Magic Flute Fantasy" by Sarasota, arranged by Tabllione, was a beautiful contrast to the Libermann. Fresh, elegant, graceful and playing with impeccable technique, Taballione had the public in a complete ecstatic trance. His dynamic range alone was so impressive and moving, but combined with his musicianship, the effect was transcendant.
This concert was an amazing opportunity for the public to hear such effusive artistry. Each player contributed their own unique voice, each imbued the performance with their own characters and wildly different colors. The multicultural and multilingual country of Switzerland was the perfect setting for this dessert sampler of delicious, varied treats which the attendees will savor for some time.
Kersten McCall Recital
Kersten McCall, Principal Flutist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, accompanied by pianist Kamelia Miladinova, played an impeccable recital. The audience was spellbound throughout the diverse program. By the end of the concert, everyone was literally moved to tears by McCall's magnificent technique and masterful musicality and by Miladinova's utmost sensitivity and impeccable technique on the piano.
The program began with the Sonatine by Pierre Boulez, one of the most challenging chamber music pieces for the flute and piano. Often otherwise an arduous piece for the audience, McCall and Miladinova concocted an immaculate brew full of mystery, bravura, and intensity that rewarded the doubtless many hours of dedicated effort that the pair put into presenting this piece.
McCall and Miladinova then played the Sonata in B Minor by J.S. Bach with incredible grace and elegance. McCall’s consummate intonation was matched by Miladinova’s facile dexterity. The Largo e dolce was played with such refined dignity that the public was completely transported into other realms.
The Richard Strauss Sonata in Eb Major, op. 18 (a transcription from the violin repertoire), was incredibly rich and moving, with McCall’s sonorous lines were both glorious and breathtaking. The McCall and Miladinova Duo’s superlative interpretation of this vast repertoire was a testimony of their exemplary artistry. McCall is a genuine master, with unparalleled finesse and mastery. This was truly an exceptional performance which brought the public to their feet after every piece!
Jazz Evening: Ali Ryerson, Ernesto Fernandez, Matthias Ziegler, Charles Loos
We were treated to an evening of jazz at the festival!! An exciting, versatile concert by three very accomplished players along with legendary pianist and composer Charles Loos.
The concert opened with Matthias Zeigler on the Contrabass flute, he played with expertise, using extended techniques and electronic amplification to weave an abstract improvisation that eventually drew in Ali Ryerson and Charles Loos, morphing into a jazz standard that was a satisfying arrival!!
Ali then played several works including original works by Loos and a piece dedicated to flutist and educator Keith Underwood, ending with Thad Jones “A Child is Born.” Ali played with grace and understanding and welcomed us into the music with her joyous playing.
Third on the program was Latin jazz flutist Ernesto Fernandez who played a range of pieces by Chucho Valdes, Abelardo Valdes, Noro Morales, Henry Mancini and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Fernandez is an electrifying player and he had us dancing in the aisles…almost!! It was most interesting to hear three different jazz styles, the concert was brilliantly curated to give us all a peek into the music and melded them together beautifully! They closed, all playing together in a rousing finale.
The Galway "All Stars" Concert
The Galway “All Stars” Concert was a feast for the senses. With International Flute Superstars performing a delightful palette of works from their respective nations. Each player gave us a taste and window into their culture, with their particular style and unique flavors.
Israeli flutist, Yossi Arnheim opened the concert with a lovely programming idea. He presented an Israeli composer’s piece for flute alone, interspersed with the CPE Bach Sonata in A Minor. The first piece was Tzoref by Avraham Amzallag which was a haunting melody which Arnheim played exquisitely. The Yemenite Dance by Joachim Stutschewsky was more lively where Arnheim elegantly displayed his exemplary technique. The Romance, also by Joachim Stutschewsky was tender and sweet and Arnheim’s performance was pure and full of grace. It was a creative idea to intersperse these delightful pieces alongside the CPE Bach. Arnheim’s performance was veritable and engaging.
The Turkish flutist, Aslihan And, presented the Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso by Camille Saint-Saens with passionate flair and power. Her incomparable sound and musicality soared, and her technique was immaculate. Aslihan And then presented Rhapsody by the Turkish composer, Recep Gül which was romantic and intoxicating, expertly played by Aslihan And and pianist, Dearbhla Brosnan. Aslihan And and Dearbhla Brosnan made an exceptionally energetic duo.
The Italian flutist, Andrea Griminelli, started his portion of the concert with an beautiful Aria which he dedicated to Sir James Galway. He then played the Andante Pastoral et Scherzettino by Paul Taffanel with a robust sound and impeccable technique. Griminelli finished his segment with Il Pastore Svizzera by Francesco Morlacchi with ardent facility and engaging musicality. Pianist Kamelia Miladinova was a first rate accompanist, with virtuoso capabilities and outstanding musicianship. Both Griminelli and Miladinova delivered an exceptional performance.
The Russian flutist, Irina Stachinskaya, was ravishing with her interpretation of the Russian composer Anatoly Simonov’s Sonata. The first movement, Recitando was compelling, and she performed the entire work, memorized (!!) while showcasing her stunning technique, unrivaled intonation, and glamorous style. Stachinskaya played the second movement, Tranquillo, with her ravishing sound, and breathtaking musicality. The third movement displayed Stachinskaya’s consummate technique and impressive artistic flare. Irina Stachinskaya’s performance was bewitching. Bulgarian pianist Kamelia Miladinova proved herself to be a superb authority with Russian music. Together, Stachinskaya and Miladinova made a dynamic team, delivering a first-rate performance full of energetic zeal and fire.
Piccolo master Nicola Mazzanti played Mike Mower’s Sonata with superlative technique and agility. Mazzanti performed the first movement, Lively, with great poise and supple fluidity. The second movement, Gently, was tender, and the third movement, Fiery, was bold and played with a brilliant technique. Mazzanti and pianist Mirko Maltoni finished their recital with Vittorio Monti’s Czardas, with particular zest and bravura.
The concert concluded with Nicola Mazzanti conducting the Galway Flute Festival Piccolo Ensemble featuring pieces by Giorgio Tortora. La situazione e bloccata! was particularly effective and charming.
The audience leapt to their feet after each performer and again after the Grand Finale, a wonderful testament to the legacy and magnificence that Sir James Galway has in choosing students and colleagues to perform in his first-class Galway Flute Festival.
Rising Stars Concert
The Rising Stars Recital featured 2016 Rising Stars Stephen Clark and Barbara Kortmann, each equally accomplished players with strikingly opposite playing. Clark opened the concert with a favorite of mine, Takatsugu Muramatsu's "Earth." It is always a joy to hear this piece, as it is not very well-known, and it is so sweet and melodic in nature. Clark pulled it off very well. Music from the world was a theme throughout his all-memorized (!!) performance, with next piece "Bali Moods No. 1" by Australian composer Anne Boyd. The public enjoyed hearing this piece for the first time, and the audience was transported back to Bali with the gamelan-like melodies. Ian Clarke's "Orange Dawn" was a stunning interpretation of his piece written while in North Africa, with lots pitch bends and extended techniques. Lastly, Clark's Carmen Fantasy was well executed and fun, and it showed how he is a true Rising Star.
Barbara Kortmann played the second half of the concert, choosing more baroque, classical, and romantic flute music, which made for a nice contrast to Clark's program. Her interpretation of Schumann's Fantasiestucke was beautiful. Kortmann's pure and refined tone was perfect for the long lines in the piece. Next was Vivaldi's Sonata No. 6 in G Minor. She played in a very consistent baroque style; we enjoyed listening to the nuances of each note in the Largo movement. Her fast movements were brilliant, and she gave a great delivery of this piece. Lastly, she performed Schubert's "Trockne Blumen" Variations. This was an audience favorite, as she gave an honest and powerful performance of this standard and challenging piece. Her pianist, Thomas Haberlah, was also great and fun to watch, especially in his featured variations. She kept the audience wanting to hear more, and everyone was excited to hear each variation after another.
This was really an enjoyable concert, because both Kortmann and Clark gave us not only exquisite playing, but the contrast in their programs and playing styles provided for a great evening of flute playing.
--Andrea "Fluterscooter" Fisher
Grand Finale Concert
The final concert of the Galway Festival was a flute choir extravaganza a celebration of all things flute!!
The concert began with the “Low Flute Choir” conducted by amazing low flute expert Chris Potter. Low flute choir’s include alto, bass and contrabass flutes and are beautiful in their low, rich, pipe organ like sounds. They played beautifully and I especially enjoyed the Bach Brandenburg selection, which was expressive and exciting.
The low flutes where then joined by the rest of the flutes, adding C flutes and piccolo to the mix, and fully all the flutists at the festival joined in! I didn’t count but there sure were a lot of flutists in this massive, master flute choir. The choir was conducted by Sir James with the final piece conducted by Lady Jeanne. The choir played a selection of fun pieces including arrangements from Pirates of Penzance, La Boheme, Carnival of the Animals and more including a closer that involved the audience playing small percussion instruments and making a racket!! An especially memorable moment was Sir James’s slide whistle solo!
At the end of the concert, awards were given to the students. These awards include head joints, scholarships and instruments generously donated by the flute companies and voted on by the students. The students award their colleagues in a show of community and support.
It was a great (and teary) way to end the festival.