Two ‘sublime professionals’ play an unforgettable concert

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Flautist Sally Walker and pianist Simon Tedeschi… “This was a concert that will stay long in the memory of everyone who attended.”

Music / Simon Tedeschi and Sally Walker, at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Barton, November 29. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.

WHEN two of Australia’s most talented musicians get together for a concert of fascinating music, the outcome was always going to be one of sublime pleasure, and it was.

Presented by the ACT Keyboard Association, this was a concert of supreme professionalism by Simon Tedeschi on piano and Sally Walker on flutes. It began with two soft lilting tunes where the velvety tones of the flute sounded out warmly in the small echoey space of the chapel. Without a program to follow and only the performers to announce what they were playing made it difficult for people to hear what was being played, especially when they sat in the back row like this reviewer.

Gabriel Faure’s “Sicilian” is a sublime piece, but to hear two consummate professionals play it in a small space is something else. Walker’s tonal quality and accuracy embellished this tune that is so perfect for the flute. Tedeschi’s sensitive reading made this song sing with beauty.

Erik Satie’s three compositions, “Gymnopédie”, are perfect for a warm Sunday afternoon, actually, they are perfect for any time, but the resonance of the chapel made his music feel even more intimate. This flowing, un-sad tune could not have sounded better.

Another transcendentally beautiful piece, this one by a French composer, had many similar harmonisations between the two instruments. They followed one another up and down the same melody line for a good part of the piece. Walker’s control in the work was astounding. The quick runs followed by long soft notes showed her ability as a front-line musician. Tedeschi made the mood even better.

“Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin was a piece Tedeschi first performed at 10 or 11. He claims he has played it more times than any other person, and listening to him perform without sheet music, not only showed his mastery of this work, but it proves valid his statement. It’s always thrilling to hear this piece, but to experience it performed live by Tedeschi is something few ever forget.

A tango by an Argentinian composer followed. The flute lines had overtones of French Impressionism throughout this moving musical tale. Then a piece from Bizet’s “Carmen”. This pastoral-like work flowed evenly from beginning to end. Then a short romance by Max Reger and a work by American composer Amy Beach. A “Rag” by Elena Kats-Chernin with Walker on piccolo was a lot of fun.

Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel im Spiegel”, which was performed on alto flute, puts an audience into a trance-like state. Its long notes are a special task for a wind player. Maintaining an even dynamic is a challenge for any performer, and Walker did it with outward simplicity. Tedeschi held the work together with a balanced control.

To end the concert, a stunning composition by Poulenc, his “Sonata for Flute and Piano”. The professionalism and passion played in this work was mirrored in every piece performed. This was a concert that will stay long in the memory of everyone who attended.

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