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Download: Classicsonline

Triocca: Trios for Flute, Viola and Harp
Arnold BAX (1883-1953)
Elegiac Trio (1916) [9:50]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp (1915) [19:43]
Eric SWEENEY (b. 1948)
Walk/Don’t Walk (2003) [7:47]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Trio Sonata in G minor (1718) [8:58]
Philip MARTIN (b. 1947)
Fantasy for Flute, Viola and Harp (2008) [9:50]
Hamilton HARTY (1879-1941)
Fantasy “In Ireland” (1918) [7:39]
Triocca (Ríona Ó Duinnín (flute); Nancy Johnson (viola); Geraldine O’Doherty (harp))
rec. St. Peter’s Church of Ireland, Drogheda, 4-6 March 2009
RTÉ LYRIC FM CD122 [61:09]
Experience Classicsonline

Bax’s Elegiac Trio and Debussy’s Sonata are certainly the best known works for this instrumental combination. Curiously enough both works are near-contemporary but composed in quite different circumstances. Bax’s work was composed after the Easter Rising and on the death of Pádraig Pearse to whose memory he composed his short orchestral work In Memoriam (1916). As the anonymous insert notes rightly suggest, the trio is not so much an “in memoriam” to individuals as an elegy for Romantic Ireland. On the other hand, Debussy composed his sonata when he was already quite ill and this may at times be heard in the music. He himself remarked after hearing the piece that “it [is] the music of a Debussy I no longer know”.

Eric Sweeney is a most distinguished composer whose music is too little heard, at least outside Ireland, so that it is always nice to be able to hear some fairly recent work of his. This is the case of his trio Walk/Don’t Walk, “a piece in which the different melodic lines all follow certain shared parameters but respond in different ways” (Eric Sweeney). The piece opens with a “walking” ostinato with the flute providing some melodic material. The music briefly halts, muses and moves on again, the melodic material changing hands. The basic material is somewhat repetitive, but by no mean minimalist. This is a delightful work and a most welcome alternative to Debussy’s ubiquitous sonata.

Philip Martin may be better known as a pianist but he is also a composer of no mean achievement. His recent Fantasy, admittedly inspired by the composer’s admiration for Debussy’s sonata, is a good example of his superbly crafted music-making. The composer describes the work as a conversational piece in which each instrument has its own say at one time or another. This colourful, richly melodic work also deserves to be heard more often.

Hamilton Harty’s Fantasy “In Ireland, too, is reasonably well-known, especially in its original version for flute and piano composed in 1918. Later, in 1935, the composer made a version for flute, harp and orchestra. The arrangement for flute, viola and harp heard here was made for Triocca by the conductor David Brophy. This is a delightful piece of music, in whichever version.

This mostly Irish programme is filled-up with a pleasant Trio Sonata by Telemann played with as much affection and musicality as the rest of the programme, although I would have preferred another Irish work or two, but this may be for the future.

Already six years in existence now, Triocca has made a name for itself. These young ladies play wonderfully throughout this agreeably varied programme.

Hubert Culot




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