Flautist Rosanna Ter-Berg takes on challenging piece from 1946

Chichester Chamber Concerts launch the New Year with a visit from flautist Rosanna Ter-Berg and friends.

Rosanna Ter-Berg. Picture by Orde Eliason
Rosanna Ter-Berg. Picture by Orde Eliason

Rosanna has been a frequent visitor to Chichester in recent years: “I think it has been one of the places I have gone to most.

“There must be a lot of music happening there.”

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But this time, when she plays at the Assembly Room, Chichester Council House, North Street, on Thursday, January 21 (7.30pm), she is delighted to be joined by her duo partner, harpist Olivia Jageurs and three members of the Gildas String Quartet: Gemma Sharples (violin), Kay Stephen (viola) and Anna Menzies (cello).

“Olivia and I have been playing together for slightly over two years. We met because she was ushering and turning over the pages for the pianist when I did a recital at the Wigmore Hall. That was January 2012. We then kept bumping into each other at various orchestral things.”

With the addition of Gemma, Kay and Anna, two now makes five, playing together for the first time. If all goes well, Chichester might be able to claim it was there at the birth of a new quintet.

Rosanna certainly hopes they might be able to start playing together regularly as an ensemble: “There is a lot of really lovely music out there we could do. All of them are good players. It would be fantastic to do. But it’s harder to be successful with a big ensemble. It’s more difficult. It’s not that people don’t want to hear it. They do. But it is just harder from the financial side of things.”

For Chichester, the programme will include trios, duos and quintets by Debussy, Tournier and Jolivet, as well as Mozart and Jongen.

“Jolivet wrote quite a few really fantastic flute pieces. This piece I am doing is a Paris Conservatoire test piece. The composers were commissioned to write the most challenging pieces they can to test the students. Virtually all of these pieces won the Rome big prize.

“They are massive crazy showpieces that really challenge you technically and harmonically, and at the time there were considered the most difficult pieces. Now they have just become very staple pieces of music in the flute repertoire.

“This one was written in 1946, and at the time it was just crazy, crazy, but people just push themselves all the time, like athletes doing stretches nobody had ever done before and then they just become standard.

“Not that it is exactly a walk in the park now. It’s all about Greek mythology and crazy ritual dances. It’s like Greek antiquity, and it has some very oriental-sounding harmonies.

“It’s really different from everything else on the programme. It’s quite nice to challenge the audience, rather than just playing lovely music that people can drift away to!

“I have done this one flute and piano before. I have never had the chance to do it flute and strings before.”

Tickets are available from Chichester Festival Theatre on 01243 781312.

The Chichester Chamber Concerts series continues on Thursday, February 18, at 7.30pm with the Busch Ensemble. Named after the violinist Adolf Busch, the London-based ensemble has emerged as a leading piano trio of the new generation.

Winners of the 2012 Royal Overseas League Competition, they have performed at the Wigmore Hall, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Their programme at the Assembly Room will be: Schubert – Piano Trio in E flat D929; Theo Loevendie – Ackermusik (1997); and Mendelssohn – Piano Trio in D minor Op 49.

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