Tim Homfray hears the concert at London’s Wigmore Hall on 15 April 2019
These three players met for the first time to give this afternoon concert, but the rapport between them belied the fact. The best-known work on the programme was Debussy’s Sonata for flute, viola and harp, which came in the middle. They opened with Arnold Bax’s Elegiac Trio, written in 1916 when he probably came up with the same combination independently. It certainly fits his love of Ireland; he wrote the trio in response to the 1916 Easter Rising. The playing had a bewitching sensibility, both relaxed and intense, with flute and viola in easy dialogue and Zimmermann responding beautifully to Bax’s instruction ‘singing’.
After a fine account of Debussy’s Syrinx from Walker, they opened his Trio with gentle playing in the first-movement Pastorale, and some unprescribed sul ponticello arpeggios from Zimmermann. In the Finale there was some rasping disjointed phrasing – in a good way – and the sense of three terrific distinct personalities at work. In the first part of Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola, Zimmermann showed masterful control of its double-stopped lines, with independent phrasing of both parts. Later she brought great emotional expression to long, keening phrases. In Sofia Gubaidulina’s trio Garden of Joy and Sorrow she floated gracefully up and down the fingerboard in the arpeggiated harmonics that feature throughout.