Boulez/Dutilleux/Jolivet et al - Sonatines for Flute and Piano
Georges Barrere, for whose platinum flute Varese wrote his ground-breaking Densite 21.5 in 1936, had been the solo flautist in the first performance of Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune more than 40 years earlier, and the shadow of L’apres-midi inevitably falls over much of 20th-century French flute music.
But not all. Bernold and Tharaud seize on the energy of Boulez’s 1946 Sonatine, which conjures up an altogether more sportive, mischievous and violent creature. My only slight reservations are over Bernold’s audible intakes of breath (Cherrier’s are silent) and the sometimes slightly too prominent recording of the piano. But here is proof that atonality can be fun. In the modal Sonatine by Dutilleux, Bernold does not quite find Pahud’s pastoral, Debussyan mood at the start, and both Pahud and Le Sage are occasionally more careful of the composer’s instructions, but the fast final passage is finely played, as is Le merle noir.
In both Densite 21.5 and Jolivet’s Cinq Incantations, where the composer was influenced by non-European flute sonorities, Bernold emphasises the repetitive, obsessive character of lines and individual notes and takes us sometimes to the border between sound and noise. This, Jolivet seems to be saying, is what the faun might have played before sex addled his brain. If 51 minutes seems a touch short for a CD these days, at least we have the pleasure of knowing that every note on this disc is quality-assured. And, with the minor reservations mentioned above, that goes for the performances, too.'