Monday, 15 August 2011

WILLIAM BENNETT Gala Concert / 2nd Flute Festival Singapore 2011 / Review

2nd Flute Festival Singapore 2011
The Chamber, The Arts House
Saturday (13 August 2011)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 15 August 2011 with the title "Seamless songs from the heart".

An indication of how the music scene in Singapore has progressed may be measured by the number of instrumental festivals that have sprouted on the landscape. The Flute Festival Singapore 2011 is the fifth this reviewer has had the pleasure of attending this year, following those showcasing chamber music, the guitar, piano and saxophone.

The centrepiece of the flute platform was a concert by renowned British flautist William Bennett, who has a long and distinguished career as soloist and player in groups like the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, London Symphony and English Chamber Orchestras. He was partnered by local string players, mostly from the SSO.

The opening work saw Bennett joined by festival director and former student Goh Tiong Eng in Telemann’s Concerto in B flat major for two flutes. Written as an entertainment, the duo revelled in its delightful interplay and counterpoint, breezing through alternating slow and fast movements to a lively conclusion.

Bennett’s youthful way with the flute, his creamy rounded tone and mercurial reflexes belied an artist well into his seventies. There were never less than total commitment and dedication to his craft, especially in an extended work such as C.P.E.Bach’s Concerto in D major, originally conceived as a keyboard concerto.

Its three movements were that of a conventional classical concerto, complete with orchestral tutti, aria-like slow movement and a nimble finale capped with a cadenza. Bennett made it sound like a masterpiece, in the manner of the better-known Mozart concertos.

The most familiar works on the evening were both by Mozart, his Flute Quartets in D major (K.285) and C major (K.285b), composed for a surgeon in the Dutch East India Company. Although Mozart was known to have disliked the flute, there was neither lack of invention nor inspiration in these creations.

The central movement of the former saw pizzicato strings accompany Bennett’s seamless song from the heart, a short but ingenious diversion. For the second movement of the latter, a minuet-like dance was subject to a marvellous set of variations, each more florid than the last. The quartet of musicians on stage was clearly enjoying themselves, with the camaraderie palpable.

There were no encores for an enthused audience, but the enjoyable fare had more than satisfied the senses.

No comments: