Sirius Chau and Kumi Matsuo – 3rd December 2021

Another wonderful concert from a Philip and Dorothy Green Young Artist!

What our audience thought:
‘Such a great evening last night, thanks to everyone’
‘Thank you for the lovely concert, it was a real pleasure.’
‘Sirius and Kumi were a magnificent joy!’

Concert Review:
What a musical treat it was for us all when Sirius Chau and Kumi Matsuo performed their carefully selected set of works for flute and piano. Sirius has that mixture of skill, enthusiasm and musicality which brings the flute alive and Kumi was an excellent accompanist to blend with Sirius’s musical charms. It was a feature of the concert that they were listening to each other and playing as a duo rather than as two soloists. They were thoughtful about the balance of sound and lowered the piano lid to get a better blend for the ear. It is easy to see why Kumi is in high demand as an accompanist. The performance was filled with thrills and surprises throughout their excellent, well-chosen programme.

The concert opened with the haunting and evocative strains of Debussy’s ‘Prélude à l’après-midi d’un Faune’ arranged for flute and piano. A performance quite magical, which took us into the world of fantasy created by the composer with the effect created for us by the performers .

Bach’s Sonata for flute in E minor followed. Such a technically demanding work, but this flowed flawlessly from the talent of Sirius and the sensitive accompaniment of Kumi. Such a delightful rendition of this piece which is a sparkling baroque sonata written just as the wooden flute of the time was replacing the recorder.

We were then treated to an interesting and enjoyable trip to Agentina with Piazolla’s ‘Histoire Du Tango for Flute and Piano’ demonstrating how the tango had changed over the last century from its innovation in the bordellos of Buenos Aires through the cafe sceme, night clubs and today’s tango of the concert hall. Written originally for flute and guitar, it had us all tapping our feet; it was hard not to be leaping around doing our tango steps in our imagination. One of Piazzolla’s most famous compositions and it is easy to see why. Sirius and Kumi created that wild tango sound for us to enjoy.

After the interval we were taken to Japan to the world of Miyagi with his impressionist piece Haru no Umi, or The Sea in Spring. This made a clever link between the first half which started with the impressionism of Debussy’s music. A very soulful piece and made even more poignant as Miyagi was recalling the world before he lost his sight at a young age. Sirius and Kumi took us to that remembered world by the Sea of Tomonoura.

The next piece by Alfredo Casella, his Sicilienne et Burlesque, Op.23 was a reminder in many ways of the music of Faure. When wondering why that was, it dawned that Casella was in fact a pupil of Faure and the musical connection became clear and this also links the music nicely to the opening piece by Debussy. Apparently, Casella was a great admirer of the Debussy work the concert opened with.

Ray Leung’s As the Wind Resonates was given its world premiere by Sirius and Kumi at the Wigmore Hall in 2019. Clearly a piece close to the artists’ hearts. Featuring the alto flute to generate a wonderful sound world with strong connections to Hong Kong. Into the natural world once more through the evocative playing of Sirius and Kumi.

The piece by Rutter, Selections from Suite Antique’ was a highlight of the concert for me with echoes of the earlier Bach sonata, or more precisely with the Brandenburg Concerto No. 5. A delightful performance evocative of the baroque world yet with modern elements.

The final piece by Liebermann, his Sonata for Flute and Piano, Op.23 has become a popular part of the flute repertoire. It is full of opportunities for the artists to show off their talents which they did with great virtuosity giving the audience a stunning end to the concert.

We thought it couldn’t get any better than this, but we were wrong as Sirius gave us a memorable encore of a fascinating piece by Ian Clarke ‘Zoom Tube’. Such a range of sounds with many beyond what we imagined were possible from a flute. A fantastic end to a memorable concert which left us all with that ‘Wow’ feeling.

John Pearson

Photos by Marian Pearson