In the finale of Breinton’s 2017/18 season, trumpeter Matilda Lloyd and pianist Leo Nicholson took the audience enjoyment to another level. There were lots of unexpected moments to make us stunned, but the highlight of the evening was Seven Halts on the Somme by living composer Deborah Pritchard. In this extraordinary piece, Matilda played her trumpet into the piano whilst Leo held down the sustain pedal – and the resonance effect of their sound projecting out of piano strings and back at the audience was out of this world. They drew the audience right into this haunting sound pocket; throughout the piece, we felt a strong pull, it was one of those hair-raising moments. Sometimes, the sound was coming from a distance afar, sometimes near. This amazing sound-making prompted us all to expand our imagination – I had no idea where everyone’s thought was going, but we all felt our mind was floating whilst the music was firmly embedded in our soul. Thrilling, eye-opening and thought-provoking, this will be remembered for a long time.
Matilda and Leo started out with baroque composer Georg Philip Telemann’s three short Heroic Marches (he wrote twelve), each representing a different heroic trait. They sandwiched the calm and lyrical La Grace between two fast and dignified pieces, which gave a boosting energy and beautiful peacefulness in the first few minutes in a quick succession.
Another baroque composer, Bach’s Concerto in D followed. Packed with excitement and beauty, Matilda showed off her superb clarity and dexterity in the fast passages, but what caught me most was her silky sound and flawless expression with an excellent breath control on a long lyrical melody line of the second movement. As the programme progressed this skill became more and more evident.
Castérède’s Trumpet Sonatine, “rarely performed” according to Matilda, was a bonus piece. In the funky, wacky and swingy first movement we saw a real intertwining performance between the trumpet and piano, whilst a totally different tone and colour of the trumpet was enjoyed in the second movement. The playful and cheeky third movement was bursting with fun and an excellent trumpet-piano play & chase.
Strong musicianship from both performers was heard in the next piece Gallois-Montbrun’s Sarabande et Final. The ‘Final’ part was thrillingly exciting; Matilda displayed everything the trumpet could do, while Leo showed a marvelous balance of volume and tone control, knowing when to substitute and when to be wild and bold.
Prayer of St Gregory by American composer Alan Hovhaness was another highlight for me. Though short, only lasting for 5 minutes, it was calm and spiritual, with a hint of sadness and heroism at the same time; Matilda’s tone was warm, gentle and heavenly, and one could hear the well-controlled subtle dynamics and polished phrasing. Enescu’s Légende was a sublime story-telling by the expressive ballad-style piano part and the slow and reflective trumpet melody line, and with an utterly beautiful ending which lingered into the air.
There was nothing more exciting than ending a concert with Goedicke’s Concert Etude. What showmanship and virtuosity – the dynamically rhythmical and devilish fast theme (requiring double-tonguing technique!) was sparkly, crispy and full of punch lines whilst the melodic sections were dramatically smooth and musical. This lifted the audience’s already high tension and atmosphere higher, closing the concert with full applause.