Bach: Sonata in G major, BWV 1039
Beethoven: Variations on ‘La ci darem la mano’
Ginastera: Duo for flute and oboe
Haydn: Trio no.3 in G major
Nikau Trio (Karen Batten, flute; Madeline Sakofsky, oboe; Margaret Guldborg, cello)
St Andrew’s on The Terrace
Wednesday, 6 June 2012, 12.15pm
Another day of atrocious weather in Wellington, nevertheless the audience was of a reasonable size at this delightful concert.
Despite using modern instruments, the trio managed to make an almost baroque sound in the Bach sonata – quite gorgeous. The slow-fast-slow-fast movements all had their appeal, particularly the third, adagio e piano, which had a pastoral quality. The players were notable for their absolute accuracy and very good cohesion.
Beethoven made an arrangement of Mozart’s well-known aria from his opera Don Giovanni that might have amazed the original composer, with its inventive variety. Though Beethoven’s original combination of instruments was not what we heard, it has been performed by numbers of different combinations of three instruments.
The theme was stated in a lovely pianissimo, followed by the dance-like first variation with its dotted rhythm. The second variation featured flowing cello quavers as accompaniment to the other two players, in mellifluous harmony.
The variations were successively fast and slow; in all, the writing for the instruments was delightfully interwoven. One in a minor key developed the theme in interesting harmonic ways. Then there was a variation in syncopated time. The ingeniousness of Beethoven’s ways of varying the theme was astonishing. Some sounded quite modern, with stresses on passing notes, and humorous treatments, such as in the last variation, with its mock-serious ending.
This trio’s spot-on ensemble was notable again in the Ginastera work in three movements: Sonata, Pastorale (serene but with a plaintive quality), and Fuga (a dance-like movement; sprightly, with a jokey ending). A leading Latin American composer, Ginastera died as recently as 1983. He incorporated folk melodies in his neo-classical music such as here.
Haydn’s trio was originally written for two flutes and cello, but lost nothing in its arrangement for this combination. One of Haydn’s ‘London’ trios, this was thoroughly charming in what Karen Batten described as ‘a sunny key’. The Spiritoso first movement was indeed spirited, but also lilting and tuneful. The Andante that followed was more serious; the players were in beautiful accord. The Allegro finale was cheerful, exploiting the instruments brilliantly, revealing the range and variety of timbre of each instrument.
The entire recital was one of wholly engaging and enlivening music.