Flautist James Galway returns in triumph to Symphony Hall
Works by Poulenc, Franck,
Harbison and Debussy.
Symphony Hall, Oct. 13, 3 pm.
By KAI TAO
FLUTE VIRTUOSO JAMES GALWAY returned to Symphony Hall last Sunday in triumph, delighting the audience with a selection of late 19th- and early 20th-century pieces. Bringing his typical warmth to the stage, Galway introduced each of the pieces on
the program before playing them, often spending as much time talking about the pieces and joking with the audience as he did performing.
Accompanied by his long-time partner, pianist Phillip Moll, Galway began the afternoon with the Sonata by Francis Poulenc, a piece which reflected Poulenc's musical flights. The first movement, Allegro malinconico, is intended to be a quick piece which uses melancholy notes to express a subtle beauty. Playing through several swift runs of notes spanning the whole range of sounds, Galway blended perfectly with the piano's frequent chord changes from minor to major keys. The second movement, Cantilena, is a pretty, thoughtful song. Written in the Romantic style, the piece allowed Galway to express the beauty of the flute. The finale, Presto giocoso, was fast and exciting, reflecting a certain confusion. The movement constantly teased the audience, slowing down at times to reflect an uncertain mystery, and then suddenly its hectic pace.
The next piece was the Sonata in A for violin and piano by Cesar Franck, which Galway arranged for the flute. Written as a wedding present by the composer, the sonata naturally sings of the passions of love while examining the cycle of life. The slow, melodic notes of the flute at times were peaceful enough to lull me to sleep. The pauses that occurred between notes described a possible question mark about the outcome of this love.
Professor of Music John Harbison's Duo for Flute & Piano was the next piece featured on the program. Originally written in 1961, while the composer was still a college student, the piece contained all the typical characteristics found in a modern composition: the textural changes of various notes and sounds, the use of dissonant noises and the visual imagery perceived from the notes of the piece.
Galway then returned to the Post-Impressionistic music of Claude Debussy, playing the Prelude `a l'apr`es-midi d'une faune. Like other pieces of that era, Debussy's composition allowed the performers to use the full range of the flute and piano notes to smoothly bring out the lyricism of the piece.
The official program concluded with Doppler's Airs Valaques, whose Hungarian-inspired rhythms conveyed a dancing mood, with the steady bass of the piano complemented by the melodic notes of the flute. Galway added a few "bonus" pieces in his encore performance -- his trademark version of "Danny Boy" and a
58-second rendition of the famous Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimksy-Korsakov.