Antara Duo

21 January 2020

Thomas Hancox - flute

Rachel Wick - harp

C.P.E. BACHSonata in G major, Wq.133, ‘Hamburger’
C. DE GRANDVALValse Mélancolique
FAURÉMorçeau de Concours
MOZARTAndante in C major, K.315
A. SHAPOSHNIKOVSonata for Flute and Harp
H. ANDRIESSENIntermezzo
R. SAXTONKing Herla (for harp & flute/alto flute/piccolo)
BRITTENSuite for Harp, Op.8
I. CLARKEThe Great Train Race (for solo flute)
F. BORNEFantaisie Brillante sur ‘Carmen’

The Antaro Duo first started playing together in 2007 while undergraduates at the University of Oxford before going on to postgraduate study at the Royal Academy of Music. They are now much in demand throughout the country, with performances at the Cheltenham Festival, Wigmore Hall and Kensington Palace.

Thomas is principal flute of Northern Ballet in Leeds and works regularly as guest principal flute with the UK’s leading orchestras, including English National Opera. He is also a tutor on the ever-popular Flute Kitchen summer course organised by Windstruments of Bingley and held each year in Harrogate.

Rachel works as a freelance harpist dividing her time between solo, chamber and orchestral performances as well as teaching and coaching, including the Junior Department of the Royal Academy of Music and the National Children’s Orchestra. Beyond their recital work, the Antara Duo work for Live Music Now, a charity that brings live music to those who would otherwise rarely, if ever, experience it, and also give educational performances for CAVATINA Chamber Music Trust.

This concert is generously sponsored by Windstruments of Bingley and Music House of Harrogate .

Photo credit: Kaupo Kikkas

Review


Skipton Music continued its 2019-20 season with a concert by the Antara Duo of Thomas Hancox (flute) and Rachel Wick (harp) – an unusual combination nowadays if more familiar in times past.

There were many delightful moments to savour in this concert by these two highly talented and persuasive musicians. In the first half we heard two contrasting pieces from the “belle époque” of this combination, the “Valse Mélancolique” of the rarely-heard composer Clémence de Grandval and the “Morceau de Concours” by the much better known Gabriel Fauré. Later in the concert Rachel gave a spell-binding account of the last movement of Benjamin Britten’s “Suite for harp”, making one wish she had played the earlier movements as well! In between came “King Herla” composed for the duo by the British composer Robert Saxton and telling the sad story of the mythical king who falls prey to the elves; the haunting ending, with the plaintive sound of alto flute, was particularly effective.

Your reviewer did not however find the concert as a whole entirely satisfying. The duo sought to create a varied and adventurous programme, but many of the pieces seemed to revert to a similar pattern, with an elaborate but somehow soulless flute part floating high above a subordinate harp accompaniment. The concluding suite from George Bizet’s “Carmen”, arranged by the flute maker François Borne to show off the capabilities of the instrument, was a case in point – the famous tunes were all there, but the spirit of this most sensuous of operas was somehow “lost in transcription”. The duo’s encore was a refreshing contrast – a simple yet exquisite arrangement of “Down by the Sally gardens” with the two instruments in real partnership with one another. A lovely way to end a fascinating evening.

Skipton Music’s next concert is on Tuesday 18 February in Christ Church, Skipton, with a varied programme given by the A4 Brass Quartet.

Charles Dobson