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The Monday Platform

Mozart Flute Quartet in D K285
Schulhoff String Quartet No. 1
Takemitsu Voice
Poulenc Sonata for flute and piano

Liebermann Sonata for flute and piano Op. 23
Telemann Methodical Sonata in E Minor (Cunando)
Mendelssohn String Quartet No. 6 in F minor Op. 80

Laura Lucas flute; Dominic John piano; Brodowski Quartet

Wigmore Hall 29 June 2009

This had the makings of a great concert; at the interval we were feeling that it had been one of the best hours of music making heard at Wigmore Hall this year, without other critics in evidence amongst the modest audience. First, let's get out of the way what went wrong in the disappointing second half.

Despite multiple recordings and glowing reviews e.g. "a brilliant work - - modern, colorful, intense - - quickly becoming a staple of the flute literature. That status is certainly deserved, as it is simply a marvelous work.." (Classical Music Web) we thought Lowell Liebermann's sonata meretricious and badly composed; a less than worthy vehicle for this gifted duo - would that they'd chosen instead Copland's beautiful Duo... The Telemann sonata proved to be a single slow movement, a scheduled encore for Laura of limited interest.

Mendelssohn's scarifying last quartet, an angry protest about his sister's dying, is not a comfortable work to finish a concert (though it was unforgettable with massed strings conducted by Menuhin to conclude the London String Quartet Competition 1994). The Brodowskis, ofTrinity College of Music, seized it with a will, but the sound was bottom-heavy, the 1st violinist David Brodowski lacking sufficient tone or intensity to lead. A last gripe; the programme, with little content and full of typos and misprints; ROSL and their associates, we were told, share the aim "to burtute and support young professional musicians", whatever that means? It was grotesquely overpriced at £3.

Back to the beginning, one of the most involving performances of the K285 quartet for Mozart's unfavourite instrument that I remember. Laura Lucas, 23, of the RCM (ROSLA Gold Medallist) spun an effortless stream of melody, inspiring her colleagues to great subtleties in the accompaniment, especially the lovely pizzicatto slow movement.

The Brodowskis then gave a mesmerising account of the 1st String Quartet (1924) of the ill-fated Ervin Schulhoff (1894 - 1942) who died imprisoned at the Wulzburg camp.

Laura Lucas took the stage on her own to intrigue us with Takemitzu's Voice which requires special playing techniques to evoke words in French and English - she didn't appear to have with her the contact microphone and air microphone prescribed, according to the anonymous programme note? Joined by her perfectly attuned duo partner Dominic John, we had an ideally idiomatic and perfectly balanced account of the lovely Poulenc sonata, leaving us in the best of good moods for the interval. That sequence if re-assembled would make a splendid CD, and it deserves to be repeated exactly as a BBCR3 Wigmore Hall Lunchtime Recital.

Peter Grahame Woolf