Who needs the Oscars when you have friends like Les Amies?
If you had told me that a harp, a flute and a viola made a viable musical combination, I would have questioned your hearing if not your sanity. OK, so I was wrong and you were right. Somehow, these three widely different instruments can come together to produce heart-breaking harmonies and timing so precise that it is sometimes difficult to discern which instrument is playing the lead. Les Amies, three distinguished musicians whose regular jobs are with the NY Philharmonic and teaching at Juilliard, realized they really enjoyed performing and creating music together as a trio – an unlikely trio, I think – and we are all the lucky beneficiaries of that enjoyment.
The music they performed for the fourth San Antonio Chamber Music Society concert this season was beautifully suited to their three (and sometimes just one or two) instruments. It was a trip to another realm, far away from the hum drum and hustle of life (and Oscar Sunday) and out into the stratosphere, where every note and phrase has a life of its own. They often invited us to “sit back and relax,” and that we did. The music produced by this unlikely trio was somewhat akin to submerging into a warm bath. It was peaceful music, such a welcome relief from the world outside Temple Beth-El. Oscars, schmoscars!
It was a trip to another realm, far away from the hum drum and hustle of life (and Oscar Sunday) and out into the stratosphere, where every note and phrase has a life of its own.
Their program built to the Debussy, their last selection. The Sonata pour flute, alto et harpe is devilishly difficult to perform with all its twists, turns, changes in tempo and keys, but it could have been written for these musicians. They performed it effortlessly.
And I don’t know about you, but when as an encore they performed “Scarborough Fair,” I could have just cried. (By the way, they will be recording a three-part piece including “Scarborough Fair” in the near future.)
So now we have three new amies. Did you miss the Oscar hoopla? Not I. These three consummate musicians have certainly worked very, very hard to be able to produce their sound, but – to use a time-honored Texas saying – we never even saw ‘em sweat.
Harp, viola and flute? You could have fooled me!
– E Doyle