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Ledbury Reporter 12th July 2003 (Reporter: Gary Bills-Geddes)

Louis de Bernières with Flute Trio

It is not often one can study the changing expressions of a major novelist at leisure, while enjoying some of the finest flute music in the canon. Louis de Bernières came to Ledbury’s Community Hall with a flute trio last Saturday. He left Captain Corelli’s Mandolin at home, but brought with him some fine translations of French poetry and also his guitar.

It was a pleasant evening’s entertainment, although it was curious to reflect that here was a man who could electrify the audience with just one or two lines of his own prose, yet chose to celebrate instead the big names of French verse. These included Ronsard, Baudelaire, Verlaine and Prevert. The three Antonius Players kept up a running joke that all of the novelist's choices were depressing. Indeed, the poems were a little gloomy, but in a way, perhaps, that was enjoyable, like a glass of old claret.

In between the writer sat and listened with the rest of us, although he was tempted to break out the guitar for his own strings and flute settings of Satie’s Gymnopedie No.1. De Bernières explained that, as he was no professional, ‘‘this was not included in the price of your tickets!’’. His playing was steady, except for the last chord, which took him an age to find, earning him an amused and bemused shake of the head from his partner in the piece, the German-born flautist Ilone Jones. The trio performed established works by Debussy, Bizet and Naudot, but did not shy away from contemporary works. In short, they were superb.The novelist himself came across as likeable and thoughtful individual, and it would have been excellent if we could have heard his personality expressed more completely, through his own words.

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