Aquarelles — fine music-making with old friends

This is what chamber music should be about — a conversation among old friends. Bonita Boyd, Steven Doane, and Barry Snyder are all long-time current or former faculty of the Eastman School of Music.

The individual performances are top-flight, as one might expect of such musicians. But they’re also fully integrated. All three performers are in sync, sharing the same musical vision for each work.

And those works make an interesting program. Three are relatively modern; the trios by Martinu, Gaubert, and Damase. Then there’s the Trio for Piano, Flute, and Cello, Op. 63 by Carl Maria von Weber.

This 1819 work is quite delightful, full of rich harmonies and highly-charged climaxes, and dramatic contrasts. Coming after the three relatively austere 20th Century trios, this music sounds refreshing.

Virgil Thompson called Martinu’s Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano H.300 “the work of a fine jeweler.” It’s easy to hear why. Martinu’s themes are precisely balanced and expertly developed. The harmonies counter melodies, and accompanying figures are all interrelated, resulting in a work that’s both simple and complex.

Phillipe Gaubert was a founder of the French Flute School. His trio was originally written for a standard piano trio. But he allowed the substitution of the flute fo the violin, and that’s the version most commonly played today. Although all three parts are substantial, it’s flutist Bonite Boyd that shines in this performance.

The trio of Jean-Michel Damase reinterprets the Baroque style. Damase’s neo-classical work retains much of the form of the older style while infusing it with decidedly modern harmonies and melodic contours.

Each work is worthy of attention. But what makes this album desirable are the performances of these three friends.

Bohuslav Martinu, Philippe Gaubert, Jean-Michel Damase, Carl Maria von Weber
Bonita Boyd, flute; Steven Doane, cello; Barry Snyder, piano
Bridge Records 9539

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