On a sultry late spring evening, Westminster Music Library hosted a concert given by the wonderfully named Licence to Trill.
Licence to Trill are bassoonist Hannah Benton, clarinettist Kelly Fisher and flautist Sharon Moloney. These three talented young musicians are friends who in 2013 decided they would like to meet once a month to play chamber music together. They also play in a wide variety of groups in South London. We are always pleased to support new artists by providing performing opportunities, and we were especially pleased to welcome Licence to Trill for what was their first public performance.
As the trio had decided to play their programme through without an interval, members of the audience were able to enjoy a glass of wine on arrival before taking their seats. And so, with refreshments in hand and the ceiling fans swishing, Licence to Trill, showing no visible signs of first night nerves in front of a hot full house, launched into the first two pieces of their programme. These were by French composers; François Devienne’s Trio in B flat and Eugene Bozza’s Serenade en trio. The latter has a special resonance for the three musicians as this was the first work they played together.
After these pieces by two relatively unknown composers, we moved into more familiar territory with Mozart’s delightful Divertimento in B flat major, K. 439b, originally written for three basset horns, an early type of clarinet. In introducing the piece, Kelly informed us that a divertimento was a piece of easy listening music written as after dinner entertainment. Sadly, we were unable to provide a banquet, but the music was very enjoyable nonetheless.
By way of contrast, this was followed by two pieces by twentieth century Russian composers. Both were arrangements by Quinto Maganini. First, we heard the quirky Pastorale by Stravinsky (originally for soprano and piano), and then two of Shostakovich’s Preludes (originally for piano), the second of which amply displayed the wit and humour for which he is known in his lighter pieces.
The final work in Licence to Trill’s varied programme took us in another direction altogether. It was a piece by American jazz bassoonist Ray Pizzi. Pizzi has played with a number of the great jazz musicians as well as artists such as Madonna, and has appeared on countless Hollywood soundtracks including Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Our three accomplished musicians had no difficulty slipping into the syncopated rhythms of mischievously named Linguine, described as a be-bop duet for bassoon and piano, but played in this arrangement, for flute, clarinet and bassoon.
After the generous applause which greeted the end of their concert, they still had a little gem up their sleeve to send the audience out with broad smiles tapping their feet. With a name like Licence to Trill their tongue in cheek encore couldn’t be anything else but the James Bond theme!
And so ended a very enjoyable and informal evening with a group of fine young wind players of whom we will surely be seeing a great deal more.