REVIEW Sir Francis Burt Memorial Concert by William Yeoman

A review of the 2015 Sir Francis Burt Memorial Concert, featuring Andrew Nicholson (flute) and Joseph Nolan (organ)
reviewed by William Yeoman
on the 15th May 2015
4 Stars
this review originally appeared in the West Australian

This year’s Sir Francis Burt Memorial Concert last Tuesday night provided a rare opportunity to hear two of Perth’s most accomplished virtuosi performing together: WASO principal flute Andrew Nicholson and St. Georges’ Cathedral organist Joseph Nolan.

It was also a rare opportunity to hear Nolan, an organist whose continuing traversal of the complete works for organ of Charles Widor has already won him widespread international acclaim, as pianist.

It was in this guise that we heard him accompany Nicholson in three works: the somewhat anodyne Spiegel im Spiegel by Arvo Part, Cecile Chaminade’s charming Concertino Op. 107, Gabriel Faure’s Fantasie Op. 79 and Charles Widor’s Suite Op. 34.

But Nicholson and Nolan (on the chamber organ) first reached further back into the past to open this satisfyingly eclectic concert with an elegant account of C. P. E Bach’s Sonata in G minor H. 524.5.

The delicate nature of both it and the Part did little however to prepare the near-capacity audience for the maelstrom to follow in the shape of Henri Messerer’s transcription for organ of J. S. Bach’s mighty Chaconne in D minor for solo violin. This time at the mighty West organ, Nolan was in his element, able to indulge his protean sensibilities, by turns reflectively lyrical and exuberantly showy, to the full.

And yet Nolan still managed to surpass himself after the interval in the Allegro from Widor’s Organ Symphony No. 6, Op. 42/2, his mastery of formal and emotional exposition through a wholly dynamic conception of articulation and registration total.

But how perfect was it to end the evening with an equally masterful example of the flautist’s art as Nicholson, so strong in the Chaminade and Faure, effortlessly spun phrases as shining as his gold-plated flute out into the night air.