St Luke’s Music and Wine: Sussex Flutes, March 18th, 2016

A recital report from Simon Jenner


St Luke’s hosts international rising and risen stars. This popular ensemble is in danger of being overlooked because it’s local and for its unique line-up. Victoria Hancox, Nicole Leclercq, Anne Hodgson, Sue Gregg and Katrin Heymann boast a flexible, extraordinarily rich, novel sonic blend, with flutes from piccolo to bass suggesting a far wider palate than flutes. Pieces written for them reflect it.

Ravel orchestrated his piano piece Alborada di gracioso, a cocksure dawn-song here gentled and filigreed yet sharpened with high enharmonics almost to stridency: bracing, morning-sharp, vivid. Bach’s Prelude & Fugue BWV 867 anchors us briefly in baroque traces, particularly the scintillatingly-arranged fugue. Five of Bartok’s Romanian Dances allowed a riot of rhythm as well as colour buzzing us into the composer-introduced ‘Dancin’ 4 5 of Ian Morgan-Williams which grounds memorable themes outside the foot-stamping, twirling he also cheerfully directs!

Vaughan Williams’ Greensleeves sorbet preluded another commission: John Hawkins’ Americana again showcases SF’s quicksilver sonorities in three portraits: wide skies, puffin’ trains. Saint-Saens’ Carnival boasts famous animal tunes again suggesting an orchestra leading to Ian Clarke’s Within. A seven-flutes piece reduces to five, a superbly condensed challenge by a flute-master, needing to be heard twice. So do Sussex Flutes in a season.

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