The Church of St. John on Hamilton’s Charlton Street has the same cordial atmosphere and acoustics as does St. John’s in Oakville. Such ambiance somehow lends itself to an intimate environment for enjoying classical music. VOX METROPOLIS’ trio of flautist Sara Traficante; cellist Kirk Starkey and the piano of David Jones chose music from the mid-18th century right up to 2015. All of the works presented were – while some not melodic…certainly interesting.
C.P.E. Bach [son of the great J.S. Bach] lived and composed during the transitional period between his father’s baroque style and the romantic music that followed. VOX opened with his Sonata in G. Nicknamed the “Hamburger”, it referred not to a fast-food staple but to the composer’s locale where he took over responsibilities from his Godfather Phillip Telemann. The two movements showcased Traficante through the demands for breath control and full instrument range. She eschews the over-dramatic ‘body English’ that many flautists incorporate, so audiences are not distracted from her exceptional technique and tonal quality. The rondo movement had a contemporary feel augmented by a liltingly military tempo.
The group’s next offering was Haydn’s trio no. 17 and was presented more instrumentally balanced among the three performers. The work had an unmistakable Haydn character and given a light touch by the piano, however; Starkey’s cello was still overpowered. The finale was carefully rendered with no tempi-liberties taken. The solo piece to follow was a different story. “Air” by Toro Takemitsu, performed by an audience-selected rear location for Traficante is a Hindemith-ish poem that is atonal and unfortunately, far too repetitious… the kind of stuff folksinger Lightfoot creates. Her performance gleaned an “A”; the composition- barely a ‘G’. Then; the concert’s revitalization; Jones’ rendering of Liszt’s famous Concert Etudes. The notation ‘sospiro’ derives from sospirando indicating doleful or sighing. This work, utilized as a CBC programme-theme was embellished and delightfully re-emphasized. The pianist denied trying to ‘re-invent the wheel,’ but this scribe – familiar with the piece, definitely discerned a creatively unique interpretation.
Post-interval, four contemporary compositions by cellist Kirk Starkey. Performed Karaoke-style for back-up; each work was distinctive especially the pizzicato 4th; modern and melodic.
The final offering: – ‘Trois Aquarelles’ by P. Gaubert. This piece whose original commission was cancelled due to a lack of funding; was intended to re-establish the chamber concept and the work (translated as ‘3 water colors’ ) was performed while artist Richard Talbot created a modern piece of art at stage left. The composition’s pastoral motif coupled with the piano’s andante melody was enhanced by the flute’s mid-range. The finale was played to showcase a presto challenge for both cello & flute.
It proved a fascinating test to split one’s concentration between the superb music and the creative activity also evolving. Quite a test; quite an experiment; quite a concert.