Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Francis Poulenc, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Sancan|
French Flute Music
Listen to Samples
French Flute Music Ranging from Sweet to Avant-Garde
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 04/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Patrick Gallois is surely one of the most illustrious French flutists in the post-Rampal generation. He's done some outstanding work on the Naxos label in the past and this new one is excellent as well. He is partnered by a Canadian pianist new to me, Lydia Wong, and she, too, is an excellent collaborator. This CD starts out with the many-times-recorded Poulenc Flute Sonata, surely one of the great pieces in the flute/piano literature, and Gallois plays the bejabbers out of it. He not only commands the sweet tones required for the first two movements, but he plays the Presto giocoso movement faster than I've ever heard it and with what sounds like superhuman articulation: I cannot imagine how anyone can play so many staccato notes so fast. It does not sound rushed, but rather simply exuberantly alive.
The other pieces include the Messiaen 'Le Merle noir,' the Sonatine by Pierre Sancan, Jolivet's 'Chant de Linos,' Sonatines by both Dutilleux and Boulez. I recall hearing the latter years ago and finding it ugly. I suppose I've come some distance in the intervening time because this time it doesn't sound ugly, although I must confess I still can't make much sense of it. I went through a time of trying to understand Boulez's music by studying some scores, and finally gave it up as beyond me. My deficiency, I'm sure, but there you are. One can say, however, that Gallois and Wong make a good case for it without convincing this particular jury. On the other hand, I've grown more and more fond of Messiaen's music over the years--his piano music has made a real believer of me, particularly in some recent recordings by Hakon Austbo ('Petites esquisses d'oiseaux/Catalogue d'oiseaux' et al.) and Pierre-Laurent Aimard ('Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus')--and this performance of 'The Blackbird' builds on that admiration. This is not only gorgeous music, it is gorgeously played, with real feeling for the birdcalls. The fast section toward the end is really exciting.
I don't recall ever seeing the name, much less hearing any of the music, of Pierre Sancan (b. 1916). He was for many years a professor at the Paris Conservatoire. The music is rather more impressionistic than anything else here, very reminiscent of the flute writing of Debussy. Jolivet's 'Chant de Linos' is a threnody that attempts to recall funerary gestures of ancient Greece. Jolivet's style is more disjunct than Poulenc's or Sancan's and seems to alternate between songful and dancing sections. It does indeed evoke ancient times although I can't quite put my finger on how Jolivet accomplishes this. That said, it did not stick with my aural memory for very long; each time I listened to it seemed to be the first time.
Dutilleux is another fairly recent discovery of mine, perhaps in the past ten years, and I am happy to label him as a great composer. Some of his orchestral works--e.g., 'Métaboles,' 'Tout un Monde lontain,' the Cello Concerto--are truly masterpieces. The Flute Sonatine, less than ten minutes long, was written in 1942 as a test piece for the Conservatoire, is rather more clearly impressionistic than his later music, but the limpid melodies and evanescent atmosphere so characteristic of his later works, is already present. I'd not heard this work before but found myself returning to it repeatedly. There is a calming effect, always, for me in his music, no matter how dramatic it becomes, and that is true for the Sonatine as well. I think that is because Dutilleux is, to use a psychological term, constantly centered, constantly at peace with himself and the world. At least that how it sounds to me.
With the exception of the Boulez, which I didn't hate but also didn't 'get', this is an exceptionally beautiful disc. And even with the Boulez the playing is beautiful. I really don't think anyone interested in this corner of the chamber music literature would go wrong to acquire the disc, and the superbudget Naxos price makes that painless.
French Flute Music
Susan O. Leary | 09/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I purchsed this CD primarily for Messiaen's Le Merle Noir. I am delighted however to now have such a great collection of French Music. Patrick Gallois is a wonderful flautist whose style and technique is dazzling and inspiring."