Review of Pelleas Ensemble Concert, 23/09/17

On 23rd September the Pelleas Ensemble came with a reputation almost unparalleled in performers so young and they left St Andrew’s Church in Curry Rivel with that reputation not only wholly intact but enhanced. The brilliance and musicianship of Luba Tunnicliffe on her viola, Henry Roberts with his flute and Oliver Wass embracing his harp delighted a considerable audience with music from Rameau, de Falla and from Claude Debussy, the only piece expressly written for that combination of instruments. That was the first half – played entirely without a sheet of music before any of them! In de Falla’s Spanish Dance No 1 from La Vida Breve, Oliver Wass dispelled for ever any notion that the harp is the exclusive preserve of delicate young ladies in Victorian dress. He plucked more strings and made more music than would a quartet of guitarists in party mood.

The second half began with a tour de force from the flautist who expressed more air than a deflating hot-air balloon in an arrangement of J S Bach’s Flute Sonata in C Major BWV 1033. Sheer virtuosic brilliance. The viola was the last in an individual display of artistry with Luba introducing the melancholy of Lachrymae – composed by Benjamin Britten with more than a nod to John Dowland who pre-deceased him by more than 350 years. Quite hauntingly beautiful.

The finale came in the form of an arrangement by Morlock of Le Tombeau de Couperin by Maurice Ravel. It started life as a suite of six piano pieces of which four were later orchestrated meaning that more than a bit of adjustment was needed for our trio. However, the impression given was that at least half an orchestra was playing. Appreciation and applause was loud, sustained and rewarded by an encore. This trio will very obviously soar to greater heights and those who were present regard themselves as privileged to have been able to enjoy them at this stage of their careers.

The next concert is at 7.00 pm on Saturday 21st October in St Andrew’s Church and features a piano recital by Alexandra Vaduva. This concert is sponsored by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust which supports young artists in whom it can perceive exceptional talents. Tickets at the door £12, students and children free.

Review by Malcolm Cotterill