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Anna Noakes & Gabriella Dall'Olio

Music for flute & harp by Doppler, Zamara, Rota, Liebermann, Caramiello, Donatoni and others.

Blackheath Halls, London 10 June 2007

This concert's single programme sheet (which had neither information about the artists nor the usual CVs) went through several permutations, and was as played far different from the one provided at the venue this morning!

The Donatoni was not played (it will be though, at Trinity College of Music, on 26 June) and there were other changes announced from the platform, the slow movement of Mozart's concerto arranged for duo only a welcome addition; a concert etude Op 193 by Félix Godefroid (1818-1897); and a jazzy harp showpiece Around the Clock by Pearl Chertok (1918-81) showed the versatility of the harp and Gabriella Dall'Olio's mastery of it.

The administrative confusion was no great matter for the small and enthusiastic audience, including a sprinkling of flutists (small with no favourites by the canonic greats offered) but did pose difficulties for your reviewer, resolved at a session with Google!

Anna Noakes explained that the repertoire for flute and harp is mainly light (composers with harpist wives figured!) but a notable exception was Lowell Liebermann's dark Sonata Op 56, which has been recorded sixteen times!! In one movement, it drew on timbres and techniques we had not heard otherwise.

All in all, this was an astonishingly generous two hours of great music making, in which only the Mozart will have been generally familiar. Both musicians teach at Trinity College; my tentative suggestion that Noakes is as good as Galway was dismissed firmly by her pupils - much better, they insisted, and who am I to argue with experts...

I have admired Noakes' playing on CD, also with Fibonacci Sequence and in a memorable Damase concert she organised at Trinity College - "Anna Noakes showed everyone else how to float and sustain a long melodic line with ardour and golden tone."

That says it all; despite a hot, humid Recital Room (Anna had to insist on the windows being re-opened despite traffic noise) she played with unblemished security and intensity of expressive phrasing. Works by Spohr and Alvars did go on a bit, but who could complain with such a demonstration of bel canto wind playing, especially after suffering a surfeit of "con belto" singing at Opera Holland Park the previous evening - (q.v. Bel Canto !!! Not Can Belto !!!)

A marvellous finish to the Halls 2007 Blackheath Sundays (which Musical Pointers and its predecessors Guide Magazine & Seen&Heard have been covering ever since their inception) after which the next season's programme was launched, see below. Importantly awaited is more detailed information about the artists; prices are not cheap!

Peter Grahame Woolf


Gabriella Dall'Olio & Anna Noakes

Peacock Room, Trinity College of Music, 26 June 2007

* There is currently a three day Harp Festival at Trinity College of Music 26-28 June.

It opened with a recital by Dall'Olio & Noakes in which the Donatoni Marches, postponed from the Blackheath recital, was enjoyed by an audience of (mainly, I guess) young harpists.

Donatoni's is a challenging work, 'sophisticated and idiomatic, avoiding the usual gimmicky harp effects'. Gabriella Dall'Olio described its arcane technicalities; worth hearing again, and included on her CD.

Once again, one marvelled in Rota's sonata, not a piece that would normally interest me, how Anna Noakes with her golden flute can nonchantly convey the whole of music in a single phrase...