Devienne & Cimarosa Concertos

James Galway the flautist is as masterly as ever in this charming if uneventful music, but Galway the conductor lacks personality

Author: 
Nalen Anthoni

Devienne & Cimarosa Concertos

  • Concerto for two flutes and strings
  • Concerto for Flute and Orchestra No. 7
  • Concerto for Flute and Orchestra No. 8

Take the virtuosity for granted. James Galway is what he always was, a brilliant flautist. And when he can avoid boredom, a very good musician too. He isn’t bored here, probably because Devienne gives him plenty to do. Galway makes the most of the writing, be it adroit or lyrical, but his dynamic range can be narrow, though that may be a side effect of being by a microphone that also captures plenty of gasps. Still, he shines but the orchestra is at a disadvantage. The sound is rather opaque, short on vibrant tone and translucent textures particularly in the lower registers.
Jeanne Galway, his wife, is also at a disadvantage, if only slightly. Her apparently thinner tone suggests a reticence that doesn’t quite reflect the equality Cimarosa offered both players. Nevertheless, she is a notably fine musician. All told then, there is little to criticise about the playing. Galway the instrumentalist has reached his peak, but Galway the conductor has some way to go. He has a dual role but the stamp of individuality in one is not replicated in the other.
Ensemble direction veers towards neutrality because he accepts the music at face value. For instance, bars 12 to 22 in the first movement exposition of No 7 are marked fortissimo but the weight of tone within this dynamic is not shaded, so the sequences emerge relentless and unvaried. Galway often lets the orchestra fend for itself. The personal touch of a conductor is missing; and concertos need that too.'

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