Piccinini shines at Skidmore flute festival
SARATOGA SPRINGS Flutist Marina Piccinini, whose international accolades include solo appearances with orchestras from North America to Japan and recitals at the world’s major concert venues, was the featured flutist Saturday night to open Skidmore College’s annual flute festival. She did not disappoint. Piccinini does everything very well.
Pianist Michael Sheppard, a colleague from the Peabody Institute in Baltimore where she also teaches, provided exceptional support with an effortless and light technique, superb balances and a matchless sensitivity.
They began with Yuko Uebayashi’s Sonata, which was an homage to the French school of flute playing with four movements that had much lyricism, many fast technical passages, playful moods and opportunities for tonal color. Piccinini exceeded all the demands.
Without using much vibrato, she still created so many colorful nuances of such subtlety that the ear could not pick up all that she did. Her phrasing was wonderfully sensitive and she has the best controlled diminuendos around. Tempos were just right, especially the quicker ones, which danced.
Pierre-Octave Ferroud’s Three Pieces for Solo Flute were equally lyrical with many fast flurries that showed off Piccinini’s fluid and even technique and singing tone. She’s so committed to what she does that her interpretations are always convincing.
Paul Taffanel’s Fantasy on “Der Freischuetz” by Weber is a virtuosic show-stopper for a flutist with technique to burn. After a dramatic introduction and some romantic lyrical moments, non-stop technical displays at top speed followed with barely a moment to breathe. Piccinini was in control and whipped it off with relish.
Resident college flutist Jan Vinci joined Piccinini and Sheppard for Jennifer Higdon’s “Lullaby.” It was shimmery and peaceful. The finale was Piccinini’s transcription of Strauss’ Violin Sonata in E-flat Major, a dramatic affair with darker colors, many lyrical but passionate lines, and some turbulent technical sections. Piccinini darkened her tone, played mostly at full volume, and set a fiery mood.
As an encore, they played a transcription of a Strauss song, “Morgen,” which was bittersweet and haunting.
The festival continues today with a master class, lecture, and a student ensemble concert, all open and free to the public.