Classical concert review: Young musicians in flute ensemble show promise

The flute produces one of the sweetest timbres of all musical instruments. The ethereal resonating tone transcends its provenance, be it made of metal or carved from wood. It is because of the love of and shared enthusiasm for the "pipe" that the Flute Association Singapore was formed in 2012, providing a platform for flautists to perform in small groups as well as in the setting of a flute orchestra.

This 80-minute concert at The Arts House on Sunday could be said to be a success because of the potential shown by its young musicians as well as the promise of more events to come. The full ensemble comprised some 17 players, ranging from the diminutive piccolo to hefty bass flute, and augmented by bass clarinet.

It opened with an effective arrangement of the Miniature Overture from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, with many of the details of the original retained. Similarly, the inter-weaving lines of J.S. Bach's "Little" Fugue in G minor (BWV.578), more often heard in the version for brass, came across well in the transcription of Clement Lim, who also conducted the ensemble.

The concert also showcased works for smaller groups. Quite excellent was the ensemble work in Frenchman Pierre Max Dubois' Quartet, originally written for four saxophones. The four players, Alvin Chan, Minh Trang, Sun Yu and Lim, more than coped with the precise timing, tricky rhythms and close harmonies in its four dance movements.

The combo of flute duet accompanied by piano included works by C.P.E. Bach, Gaubert and Polish flute virtuoso Franz Doppler. The latter's Duettino On American National Songs performed by Chan and Minh with pianist Lin Jiaxin, was a humorous melange that played on The Star Spangled Banner, Yankee Doodle and Hail, Columbia but in a manner less vulgar than Louis Gottschalk's seriously bombastic The Union.

A trio of women, Yeo Cheng Yong, Erica Song and Minh, also blended well in the chirpy finale from Haydn's Sonata No.33 in D major, originally for piano. There were further unaccompanied duos by Hugues, Kuhlau and Telemann, assorted shorts displaying different degrees of difficulty.

The concert closed with popular film music from Pirates Of The Caribbean by Klaus Badelt, again transcribed by conductor Lim. The swashbuckling swagger and salty sea shanties could have taken on a more tipsy edge, but since this concert was attended by not a few children and their parents, it was a suitably upbeat way to sign off.