Flights of Fancy for Flute

Prometheus Trio welcomes MSO flutist Heather Zinninger Yarmel in unique program.

By - Nov 29th, 2019 01:28 pm
Heather Zinninger Yarmel. Photo by Aaron Yarmel.

Heather Zinninger Yarmel. Photo by Aaron Yarmel.

The Prometheus Trio (violinist Margot Schwartz, cellist Scott Tisdel, and pianist Stefanie Jacob) continues its 20th season at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music with concerts next Monday and Tuesday evening.

Each season the Prometheus Trio adds a guest to one concert. Often the guest is a violist, given the number of great piano quartets. For the first time, the ensemble will welcome a flutist, Heather Zinninger Yarmel, Assistant Principal Flutist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The program explores the role of the classical flute using most of the combinations available to these four players.

One of three Joseph Haydn piano trios commissioned for flute or violin, his Flute Trio in G Major, Hob. XV: 15 (1790) brings bright colors to the traditionally inventive, well-structured format of Haydn piano trios. In its upper register, the flute penetrates the scene in a way that the optional violin could not.

Of the few options for all four players, the ensemble will play Nocturne, Op. 19 by 19th-century flute virtuoso Franz Doppler. An antidote to winter, this lightweight work conjures the Spring visions of a technicolor Disney cartoon fantasy.

Unexpectedly for the Prometheus, the cello sits out a work by Bohuslav MartinuSonata for Flute, Violin, and Piano (1937). The influence of Igor Stravinsky’s works such as L’Histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale) affect the angular ensemble writing. But Martinu’s use of Czech melodies and dance rhythms identify the composer.

Yarmel and Tisdel combine for an intriguing conversation by Elliot Carter for flute and cello, Enchanted Preludes (1988). The contemporary conversation explores the character of each instrument, including elements where the differences in timbre and rhythm suggest a spat between the two and other points where each instrument incorporates elements associated with the other.

The Prometheus Trio will conclude without Yarmel for a classic piano trio by Felix Mendelssohn, the Trio in D Minor, Op. 49 (1849). Mendelson’s signature elements appear; a flighty scherzo, a tuneful andante, and passionate finale allegro assai appassionato. The opening movement introduces a second theme melody I can’t get out of my head. This joyful earworm was immediately recognizable several years after I last heard it performed.

The program serves as an excellent showpiece for the chamber flute, with works as diverse in their pairings as in the historical perspective they offer. Yarmel often performs with the creative combinations of players at Milwaukee Musaik concerts.

The Prometheus Trio will perform twice – at 7:30 p.m. Monday, December 2 and Tuesday, December 3 at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music on 1584 N. Prospect Ave. General admission tickets may be purchased for $27.50 on the WCM website, at 414-276-5760 or at the door. $37.50 will purchase padded front row seats, but the Conservatory ballroom offers an excellent acoustic anywhere in the room.  Complimentary parking is available at Milwaukee Eye Care, 1684 N. Prospect Ave., located one block north of the Conservatory, for evening concerts.

The Trio’s next concert is scheduled for February 3rd and 4th, featuring trios by Beethoven, Paul Moravec, and Brahms. (The February 4th concert will be held at 11:00 a.m. rather than the usual 7:30 p.m. start.)

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