British Flute Concertos
The flute and its predecessor, the recorder, have both attracted composers to write bravura concertos since the beginning of musical history, usually designed also to divert the listener. Jonathan Dove’s The Magic Flute Dances continues that tradition, with his scintillating scoring, while his entertaining pastiche ingeniously draws in themes from Mozart’s opera, not intended for the flute.
French musicians, in particular, have a natural feeling for the instrument, not least Francis Poulenc who, in his Sonata, with its touch of gentle melancholy in the first movement, a haunting central ‘Cantilena’ and an engaging giocoso finale, has been so perceptively and elegantly orchestrated by Lennox Berkeley. His own Concerto, more serious in feeling, especially the eloquent Adagio, is one of the finest works in the flautist’s repertoire. William Alwyn’s Concerto vigorously, and also tenderly, makes the most of the interplay between flute and the other wind instruments in the original version, especially in the central movements, and this is not lost in John McCabe’s transcription. With virtuosity and rich feeling for the music’s changing colours, Emily Beynon makes a memorable soloist; and, with Bramwell Tovey’s excellent accompaniments, all these works spring readily to life in Chandos’s vividly realistic and splendidly balanced recording.