Multi-faceted artist Madeleine Dring (1923-1977) was an English actress, mime, cartoonist, violinist, pianist, singer, and composer. She earned a violin scholarship to the junior department of the Royal College of Music (RCM), and she continued her studies at RCM as a senior composition student of Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gordon Jacob. In addition to composing concert pieces, Dring sustained her love of the theater by acting, singing, playing piano, and composing incidental music.
Dring composed several of her chamber works, including the Trio for flute, oboe, and piano (1968) for her husband Roger Lord, a professional oboist who played with the London Symphony Orchestra. Flutist Peter Lloyd, Lord, and André Previn premiered the Trio in the United States. Dring admired Francis Poulenc, and her works often exhibit similarities in melodic structure and rhythmic wit.
Poulenc’s influence is clearly heard in the Trio. The first movement consists of mainly homorhythmic lines between the flute and oboe, though cheeky mixed meter passages elude a strong rhythmic pulse. The beautiful melodic simplicity of the second movement is reminiscent of the second movement of the Poulenc Flute Sonata, containing solo passages for both the flute and the oboe as well as melodic lines that interact conversationally. The similarities to the Poulenc Flute Sonata continue in the third movement of Dring’s Trio as both exhibit an energetic brilliance. The piece concludes with a double cadenza and an exuberant ensemble finish.
My favorite recording of this piece is from Jeanne Baxtresser’s Chamber music for Flute CD. Also featured on this recording are former NY Philharmonic oboist Joe Robinson and pianist Pedja Muzijevic.
I. Allegro con brio
II. Andante semplice
III. Allegro Giocoso
Banfield, Stephen. “Dring, Madeleine.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed December 31, 2013, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/45791.