August 2009 Convention
New York, NY

Baroque Flute Artist Competition, Semi-Finals

Nancy Schneeloch-Bingham

Nancy Schneeloch-Bingham

The David Hart Memorial Baroque Flute Competition was coordinated this year by Nancy Schneeloch-Bingham. Six semi-finalists played in alphabetical order, accompanied by two fine harpsichordists, DongSok Shin and Akiko Enoki Sato. The performers played the same selections chosen for the semi-final round: Blavet Sonata in G Minor, Op. 2, No. 4, “La Lumagne” (two movements); J. S. Bach Partita in A Minor Sarabande and Bourree Anglaise, and CPE Bach Sonata in E Minor Wq124 (two movements). The players were Colin Brown, Margaret Griffith, Andrea LeBlanc, Sarah Paysnick, Tammara Phillips, and Kelly Nivison-Roudabush. Three finalists were selected by judges Kim Pineda, Stephen Preston, and Jed Wentz.

The playing level is higher and higher every time I hear this competition (and I’ve been to every one). The semi-final round was full of great musicianship, nice interpretations, and good use of ornamentation. Playing a competition at a convention like this is no small feat, especially this round, where the music is chosen for you. These players are really delving into the character of the movements (especially in the suites of dance movements), and that requires subtle contrasts and quixotic mood changes with modulations, sometimes to keys difficult on traverso. One of my seat-mates said at a break, “ I don’t even know them, and I get nervous and feel for them.”

The final round contestants (and, as it turned out, in winning order) were Paysnick, LeBlanc, and Phillips, each playing selections of her own choosing. Paysnick began with two movements from Sonata 1 by Anna Bon, nicely played and a great repertoire choice. This was followed by two movements of the CPE Bach Sonata in A Minor and the Dolce and Allemanda from the Sonata in E Minor by LeClair. Paysnick’s playing was very stylistic, she made good use of a quicker tempo in the CPE Bach Poco Adagio, and the Dolce movement of the LeClair was lovely and perfectly in tune.

LeBlanc began her round with the CPE Bach Sonata in A Minor in its entirety, and also played the Leclair Sonata in E Minor, all movements. LeBlanc has a nice stance on stage, which works well for the sometimes-soft traverso; she played with the flute aimed at the audience a bit more. The Leclair Sonata fit into a nice French style, LeBlanc’s trills fast and consistant with nice nuancing in the Dolce.

Phillips changed up her program a bit from the other two, beginning with the Hotteterre Suite in D Major Op.5 No.3 followed by Fantasie No.12 in G Minor by Telemann and ending with the Locatelli Sonata in C Major, Op. 2, No.1. The Hotteterre and Telemann selections contrasted nicely to one other and showcased Phillips’ range of interpretation of these dance and dance-like movements. The Locatelli Sonata was a nice choice and the final Presto was a grand wind-up to the competition.

The judges had a difficult time, I’m sure, deciding on the outcome of this year’s competition. Congratulations to all the participants, and good luck to the future players to come in this important and unique playing experience.

—Laurie Benson

photograph by Laurie Benson