Flutist Christie Reside and pianist Terence Dawson check over their music before performing for North Okanagan Community Concert-goers Friday.

Concert review: Duo gets back to Bach

Christie Reside and Terence Dawson impressed North Okanagan Community Concert-goers at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Friday.

Christie Reside and Terence Dawson, she on flute and he on piano, impressed North Okanagan Community Concert-goers at the Performing Arts Centre Friday with a palate of musical choices to suit every taste.

Bach suited mine best. As Dawson said in his introduction to Sonata for Flute in C Major, “I don’t think there’s anything like Bach.”

This particular sonata is often attributed to Bach, the father (Johann Sebastian), as a flute solo, with Bach, the son (Carl Philipp Emanuel), adding keyboard accompaniment later. To my ear, Bach by any first name would sound as sweet, and Reside and Dawson maximized the effect of the sonata’s divine form and structure to perfection.

Reside and Dawson’s rapport with each other possibly stems from their long musical partnership as well as their shared love of chamber music and desire to expand its horizons. That desire obviously influenced Friday’s program.

For example, Bach’s measured sonata was contrasted by Jacques Ibert’s syncopated sonatine, Jeux (Games), written in 1923, almost 200 years after Bach died.  Dawson warned in his introduction that occasionally “Ibert adds the odd wrong note for colour.”  And the odd wrong note in the opening phrases did add colour, while the frolicking melodies added delight to the evening.

Ibert’s compositions are as eclectic as Reside and Dawson’s repertoire and worthy of exploration.  (They range from the light-hearted Jeux to sombre orchestral pieces such as La Ballade de la Geôle de Reading, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol.)

Reside chose two sonatas by German composer Sigfrid Karg-Elert. To enhance our enjoyment of the first, she prompted us to imagine the three movements, ranging from “cheerful and lovable” to “extremely slow” to “very quick and light,” as accompaniment to a silent movie. It was easy to conjure images of Chaplin’s tramp encountering a buzzing fly that made way for a butterfly and, once their airborne pas de deux was done, to see the tramp totter into the distance. That said, the music and its sensitive execution could have stood alone.

The second Karg-Elert piece, Sonata Appassionata for solo flute, showcased Reside’s virtuoso technique. Small wonder that she’s principal flutist with both Seattle and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras.

Dawson, dubbed one of Vancouver’s most respected musicians, also shone in a solo performance of the first three of seven fantasies by Johannes Brahms.

The program opened with Lorraine Desmarais’s sonata for piano and flute, also known as Jazz Sonata. Montreal’s Desmarais is an outstanding jazz pianist as well as a composer of note. Check her witty jazz rendition of The Flintstones’ theme song on-line.

I confess to a fleeting wish that the sheet music for Jazz Sonata would  have fallen to the floor so Reside and Dawson might have improvised in similar style. They would certainly have been up to the challenge if their finale, Chant de Linos (Song of Linos), was anything to go by.

Written at the end of the Second World War, this funeral lament’s overtones were sometimes harsh, discordant and even grotesque, but the tour de force exhibited the prowess of both performers and begged an encore by… who else but Bach? The second movement (Siciliana) of his Sonata in Eb Major sent everyone home satisfied.

The next NOCCA concert is with Canadian pianist Ian Parker, Feb. 2 at 2 p.m.

Christine Pilgrim reviews the North Okanagan Community Concert series for The Morning Star.


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