DEVIENNE; GIANELLA; CLUCK; PLEYEL Flute Concertos
These four concertos are linked by the fact that they were all composed in Paris immediately before or after the French Revolution. They have been part of Emmanuel Pahud’s repertoire since his days at the Paris Conservatoire.
For the flute, François Devienne was to the French school and Mozart’s age what Quantz was to the German school and the days of Frederick the Great. Paradoxically, his E minor Concerto, probably the best known of the 14 he wrote and regularly used today as a test piece in competitions, opens with the nervous energy of a CPE Bach flute concerto. That’s before the soloist enters with a graceful classical subject that tells us we have entered a different world. The rondo finale is a tour de force (as Pahud admits in the booklet, ‘it pushes the flautist to the limit’), played with a joyful verve that far outstrips the prosaic András Adorján (Tudor) but closely resembles Pahud’s teacher Alain Marion (Denon). Pahud, though, has the advantage of a crisper acoustic and the enlivening support of the Basle Chamber Orchestra. The delightful if slighter works of Luigi Gianella and Gluck (the latter boasting a really lovely Adagio) precede Pleyel’s demanding C major Concerto. Here again Pahud and the quality of the recording score even over such rivals as Patrick Gallois (Naxos), with livelier tempi and Gallic insouciance.
A most attractive disc and thoughtfully presented, too: apart from a jolly double-page photo of the Basle players, the familiar portrait of Devienne (from the studio of Jacques-Louis David) reproduced in the booklet is complemented by a striking photograph of Pahud in front of David’s cartoon Le serment du jeu de paume.