Review Anna Kondrashina & Pavel Timofeyevsky, St John Smith Square, London

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

My first venture to St John Smith Square remained a dazzling afternoon concert from flutist Anna Kondrashina, with Pavel Timofeyevsky as the finest accompanist.

The spirit of the flute lived in this fine hour of music. Be it their new arrangements of old classics or some of the finest pieces in the flute and piano repertoire, everything worked so well. Clara Schumann got a lot of love with her Three Romances originally for violin and piano. She simply has to be better seen as one of the early Romantics, her husband Robert established well in that regard. The piece was very touching, Anna making it her own with its resplendence and insight. More Clara!

The Concert Fantasy on Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Golden Cockeral’ from Efrem Zimbalist held up as a sparkling delight from the Russian composer’s last opera. Very Russian sounding in nature, fine melodies and sonorities lingered around the space, Pavel on piano also getting a lot out of the score with dramatic flair, proving the composer’s clever orchestration even in just the piano reduction.

Erwin Schulhoff, a German Jew who’s life ended in a concentration camp, has one of the more interesting works in this canon: his Sonata for flute and piano. There was a lot of Stravinsky going on in this, denser moments haunted. This was a new discovery for me and I found it highly alluring and profound, the context of Schulhoff’s fate not leaving my head. Anna again, proved her mastery of the flute, you feel like these are sacred moments, the sweetness of her musicianship are always bright.

A well needed bit of cheering up was from Gershwin and his Three Preludes. Thanks to these arrangements, you fell as if they were written for flute originally. These spritely, considerate jazz delights never faltered in their tones, Anna even mimicking a drum kit in the second movements. An encore of Bach was a stunning offering we didn’t deserve, since we had been treated to an already stellar concert.

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