Review: Katherine Bryan and Ed Cohen

The 51st season of the Strathearn Music Society began in sparkling form with a recital from the RSNO’s principal flautist Katherine
Bryan, accompanied by pianist Edward Cohen, who stepped in at short notice as a replacement for the unavailable Scott Mitchell.

Katherine Bryan is, by her own admission, something of a musical magpie, borrowing repertoire from other instruments, and the concert
was peppered with such acquisitions from the playful Drdla Serenade at the opening, to Jacob Gade’s passionate Tango Jalousie Fantasia with which the evening closed.

In between we heard Dvoƙák’s F minor Romance followed by his Sonatine in G major, with its fusion of Old and New World melody and rhythm. Massenet’s Méditation from Thaïs sounded unashamedly lush and romantic on the flute, while a lively contrast was provided by Katharine Bryan’s own witty and inventive transcription of Paganini’s famous Caprice No. 24.

For many, however, the highlight of the evening came in the second half, with two pieces from the standard flute repertoire. Debussy’s Syrinx provided three and a half minutes of wistful, ethereal storytelling while the Poulenc Sonata for Flute and Piano was played with passion, exquisite technique and a rich full sound.

Poulenc’s mercurial piece is very much a duet for flute and piano, with the instruments echoing and answering each other, and Edward Cohen played with skill and sensitivity. The connection between the performers was evident throughout the concert, and no one would have guessed that they had never performed together before. Katherine Bryan herself is a natural communicator: in her playing, her face, and her body language, her love for the music was clear, and transmitted itself effortlessly to the audience.

Jennie Turnbull