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Appreciating Lifetime Learning


Joy Cline Phinney
Joy Cline Phinney

Lifetime Learning, a program of Newton Community Education, brings a series of Monday-morning classical music performances to the Andover-Newton Theological Seminary’s Wilson Chapel. The spring season opened this week with a mood-lifting concert of music for flute and piano. Pianist Joy Cline Phinney joined flutist David B. Houston on April 25th in music by Bach, Hindemith, Bloch, and Hummel for an appreciative audience.

The program opened with a flute sonata in E-flat major, probably by J. S. Bach. Phinney introduced the lilting allegro, and the audience sat up in their chairs as Houston’s flute entered with the main melody. Light in texture, with sweet melodies and simple harmonies, the sonata seemed a perfect introduction to spring.

The mood changed a bit with Paul Hindemith’s 1936 Sonata for Flute and Piano, a piece that reflects the German composer’s penchant for unexpected melodic directions. The sonata’s dreamy, sometimes melancholy slow movement was followed by a joyful dialogue between flute and piano that ended with a prolonged note fading gradually to nothing. The piece’s final movement imitates and parodies a German march—Hindemith’s echo of the Nazi marching bands he heard outside his window before his exile to England and the United States.

Following Bloch’s short and lyrical “Suite Modale” was Johann Neponek Hummel’s Sonata for Flute and Piano, Op. 50. As Phinney told the audience, Hummel was overshadowed during his lifetime by Beethoven, his friend and contemporary, but in recent decades his music has won new fans. Phinney commented on the difficulty of Hummel’s piano music, but she and Houston executed the sonata’s exhilarating runs with ease, carrying the audience along with them.

Against the translucent backdrop of Wilson Chapel’s window-filled walls, Houston’s gleaming flute, made of polished rose gold, was especially eye-catching. Houston, a faculty member at the Boston Flute Academy, is an accomplished flute maker and technician as well as a performer and teacher. He and the Julliard-trained Phinney, who often perform together, make a brilliant duo. On this April morning, they left their audience smiling.

Marya Van’t Hul has attended Boston-area classical music concerts since 1980. Formerly an amateur violist, she recently began studying cello with Rebecca Hartka.

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