The Hourglass Ensemble met for one final time this year in the Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House to present ‘Romantic Springtime’. So refreshing to see them decked out in Spring florals rather than the ever traditional black clothing. The group is well known for their philosophy of presenting music you don’t have to try too hard to appreciate. It’s a relief to find a group that doesn’t overly challenge themselves with work they need to strain to complete. Instead, the music flowed easily leaving plenty of room for interpretation. With a mix of Romantic chamber pieces and contemporary Australian composers, the program made for relaxed listening with the ever changing Sydney Harbour glinting in the background.

There were four musicians. Each piece featured a trio with the fourth player doubling as page turner for the piano. The program began with a Trio by Carl Maria von Weber strongly featuring the wonderful flute of Ewa Kowalski and articulate work from cellist James Larsen. Lovely easy salon styled music surprisingly modern considering it was written in the very early part of the Romantic era. The musicians played around  bending the tempi adding their own fun interpretation, particularly in the Scherzo movement, followed by a sweet ‘Shepherd’s Lament”. The final movement was when the group visibly relaxed into the music and started to have more fun.

Next was the highlight of the concert. A contemporary piece called Papillons from the not-heard-enough Sydney born composer who is now based in Chicago, Kristofer Spike. Artistic Director Andrew Kennedy explained how the piece was inspired by a moment when Spike had been camping and, emerging from his tent in the early morning, found himself surrounded by butterflies. The music perfectly depicted this scene. The piano part was absolutely gorgeous and pianist Anna Rutkowska-Schock seemed to joyfully submerge herself within it.

Australian composer Miriam Hyde’s Trio for flute, clarinet and piano featured a playful first movement, contemplative adagio with a lovely conversation between flute and Andrew Kennedy’s clarinet followed by a strong final movement in the form of a fugue.

The final trio was from Brahms which the audience enjoyed very much and gave a hearty applause at the close of the performance.

Watch out for their next Sydney Opera House performance 15 March 2020.


WEBER Trio in G minor for flute, cello and piano, opus 63 (1819)

SPIKE Papillons for flute, clarinet and piano (2005)

HYDE Trio for flute, clarinet and piano (1948)

BRAHMS Trio for clarinet, cello and piano, opus 114 (1891)


Ewa Kowalski Flute

Andrew Kennedy Clarinet

Anna Rutkowska-Schock Piano

James Larsen Cello