Genuine emotion, a captivating concert
about understated grace, the perfect complement for the subtle timbres of the flute, and her handling of the French works was impeccable.
Poulenc’s Sonata for Flute and Piano is one of my favourite chamber works and arguably one of the composer’s best, certainly out of the numerous sonatas he wrote.
Lee filled the outer movements with event, sparkle and colour and he captured Poulenc’s ironic style perfectly.
However, it is in the sumptuous slow movement that the heart of the piece resides and Lee brought to it a pathos that grew into a strong outpouring – it had moments of genuine emotion.
As for the rest, Gaubert’s test piece for the Paris conservatoire, Fantasie, acted as a precursor to the Poulenc, both sharing similar technical traits like doubletonguing and rapid flourishes ripping across the range of the instrument, all of which Lee accomplished with confidence and accuracy.
Maria Grenfell’s Four Pooh Stories, of which Lee performed numbers 1 and 3, is a charming homegrown work which Lee relishes – it suits his sense of humour and his natural way of chatting to his audience.
As a programmatic work for solo flute, it needs a degree of connection and variation provided by a performer who genuinely characterises the music to tell the story.
This is the second time I have heard Lee play these pieces and each time he has absolutely brought the story of Pooh and Piglet to life.
Rounding it all off, Lee gave us a jazzy, rock-influenced piece, Zoom Tube, by British flautist Ian Clarke.
It’s not as ‘‘out there’’ as Lee would have us believe but the multiphonics, vocal noises, sound effects and general contemporary bells and whistles all coalesced around a toe-tapping rhythmic ostinato in a performance that was unusual and fun – a great way to round off a thoroughly captivating concert.
Matthew Lee (flute), with Melanie Lina (piano)