Corigliano Flute Concerto; Voyage
John Corigliano's Flute Concerto is expertly tailored as a vehicle for the virtuosity and the highly individual timbre of James Galway, it has a picturesque 'programme' (the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin) that is transparently easy to follow and one indubitable coup de theatre: in its seventh and final movement the rebuffed Piper leads the children of Hamelin offinto the hills and far away, and we hear his piccolo (or is it Galway's penny whistle?) merrily skirling in the distance, far outside the concert hall (an effect expertly rendered in this excellent recording), as hushed string chords evoke the bereft and childless town.
It was high time for such a coup, I must say: it is preceded by nearly half an hour of not much more than sound effects: a slow, shimmering crescendo for the dawn, an onomatopoeic scrabble of squeaks, glissandos and squealing clarinets for the arrival of the rats, technicolour 'early music' for the pompous and ungrateful burghers, a gentle burble for the Piper as enchanter. But of strong ideas strong enough to sustain a structure nearly 40 minutes in length, there is not a sign. Even that modestly effective finale plays for nine-and-a-half minutes, approximately seven minutes longer than its several-times-repeated material will bear and none of the other movements has half its character.
The gently lyrical Voyage, palely and softly attractive in its short-breathed way, has more substance to it, and is less than a quarter of the Concerto's length. Almost the only thing in this dismal record's favour is the truly wonderful misprint in the Italian translation of the Concerto's sub-title. I wonit spoil it for you.'