Teasing out the subtleties: Thoughts on our upcoming 'Tempi Espressivi'

KP_Crippled symmetry_image Hannah Reardon-Smith writes about our upcoming concert Tempi Espressivi, which will take place this Friday night at the Judith Wright Centre.

This coming Friday we're presenting a special performance by Kupka's Piano "sub-trio", consisting of Angus Wilson (percussionist), Alex Raineri (pianist), and myself (flautist). I guess it comes as no surprise that it is an ambitious program! And each of the works has a special significance for the performers.

One of the great pleasures for me has been revisiting 'Presto con Fuoco' for flute and piano by Swiss-Austrian composer Beat Furrer. Alex and I first played this work in 2011, giving its Australian premiere at the Campbelltown Arts Centre in Sydney. We performed it several more times that year, and the result is that as we return to it now we find its hockets and breathless drive are written into our bones. What took us a good many weeks to learn the first time through now requires only the fine tuning of extra details and communications. We're very much looking forward to performing this, and our security gives us the freedom to take it at a cracking speed.

Those among our audience at the last concert would have noticed that the lovely Jodie Rottle had taken my place on the stage. This is because I was spending several months over in Cologne, Germany thanks to an Australia Council ArtStart grant, studying privately with Helen Bledsoe (flautist with musikFabrik) and Dr Camilla Hoitenga (the flautist who worked with Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho on the vast majority of her works for the instrument). It was an incredible time for me, and I worked closely with these teachers on a large amount of repertoire - in particular Stockhausen's 'In Freundschaft' and Gérard Grisey's 'Talea'. With Helen I also worked on a piece that has been on my to-do pile for several years: 'Cassandra's Dream Song' by English new complexity composer Brian Ferneyhough. A piece like this requires intense commitment and patience. Ferneyhough packs an enormous amount of detail into every gesture and line. A flautist himself, he wrote the work with flute in hand, finding ways to cross the established 'limits' of the instrument. There is also work for the musician on the level of interpretation, as some of the ordering of parts of the work is left up to the performer. This work is now one of the new 'standard repertoire' pieces for the flute, and single-handedly expanded our knowledge of what the flute can do. It was written in 1970 but not performed until 1975! For many flautists it is the kind of piece that you keep on working on throughout your career. I am just starting that process, and this Friday will be my first performance of 'Cassandra'.

In this concert we will giving the premiere of Liam Flenady's trio 'Quite Early Morning No. 2'. Liam has written about it here, and Angus has weighed in on the process of preparing Liam's music. I'm not sure we've rehearsed anything so intensively as we have this piece over the last few weeks. Liam does not write especially easy music, and realising the complexities, particularly those of the communication between members of the ensemble, presents many challenges. The opportunity to work so intensively together on a work like this is, however, extremely rewarding. Liam has been sitting in on every rehearsal, which brings a very different process into play - one where we can negotiate solutions to instrumental and ensemble issues with the composer at hand, and receive insight into the process and ideas behind the music. It's always both terrifying and exhilarating to premiere new music, and this piece will be no exception.

Angus and Alex have also been preparing 'Quatre pièces fébriles' ('Four feverish pieces') by Georges Aperghis. The three of us (along with composers Liam and Michael Mathieson-Sandars) will actually be heading to the Darmstadt Summer Festival of new music a few short weeks after this concert, and there we will have the opportunity to play these works for the composers: Furrer, Ferneyhough and Aperghis are all tutors at this year's festival!

In short, we hope you can join us on Friday for Tempi Espressivi, a concert that teases out the many subtleties that exist between 'fast' and 'slow'.