Teddy Niedermaier & Robert Walters
Last night at Hidden Valley Music Seminars a large audience turned out to hear a concert by Robert Walters, English Horn and Judith LeClair, bassoon. A highlight of the program was the world premiere of Trio for English Horn, Bassoon, and Piano, a new work by Teddy Niedermaier commissioned by Hidden Valley. The program also included works by Bach, Gustav Mahler and Eugène Jancourt.
This event was one in a continuing series of concerts we have been hearing in Hidden Valley’s Masters Series 2016. Over the past several decades Hidden Valley has brought to local audiences such illustrious musicians as cellist Lorne Munroe and legendary flutist Julius Baker. The tradition has continued to the present day and lures young students from all over the world to come to Hidden Valley and participate in concerts, master classes and informal sessions, where they enjoy intimate and informal association with the featured soloists as well as intense private instruction from these distinguished musicians.
The first half of the concert was presented by Robert Walters as he performed for us a Sonata by J. S. Bach in F Major, a work he admitted that was originally a trio sonata for flute, violin and viola da gamba, but “appropriated” by him for his own purposes. Performing with him in this work was composer/pianist Teddy Niedermaier, and it turned out to be a charming performance that demonstrated Walters’ astonishing technical mastery, elegantly shaped phrasing, and his lovely stylish embellishments.
Even more impressive was the work that followed – a selection of four of the “Songs of a Wayfarer” by Gustav Mahler, again with pianist Niedermaier. Without the constraints of the Baroque style of J. S. Bach, we heard in these songs an even more expansive and expressive display of wizardry by Walters. Charm, nostalgia and anguish in equal amounts found their way to us through their masterful playing. This was a performance you wanted to hear over and over again. A more beautiful variety of beautiful sounds from the English Horn would be difficult to imagine. It was a gorgeous and moving performance.
After intermission, bassoonist Judith LeClair came out to dazzle us with her opening work, Solo No. 2, Op, 52 by Eugène Jancourt, which she performed with pianist Zsolt Bahlogh. She told the audience that it “is a bit of fluff,” but then proceeded to get beyond the operatic coloratura and tear at our heartstrings with lovely melodies that were as intense as they were elegant.
Teddy Niedermaier, Judith LeClair & Robert Walters
Ending the program was the world premiere of the Trio for English Horn, Bassoon and Piano, by Teddy Niedermaier. This one-movement work, with an approximate duration of 13 minutes, opened with a dialog between English Horn and Bassoon that was idiomatically written to showcase the most expressive features of each instrument. After several minutes of this interesting instrumental dialog of melodic and rhythmic gestures, the piano joined in with a mysterious obbligato in the bass that developed its own intensity and eventually emerged into a lovely and significant solo. This work was beautifully and effectively written for all three instruments. It was an impressive debut for Niedermaier, who is making his first appearance for local audiences.
After a standing ovation, members of the audience had an opportunity to mingle and greet the artists in a lovely wine and cheese reception provided by Hidden Valley Music Seminars.