Flute Fantasie Virtuoso French Flute Repertoire
Two of the pieces are precisely Fantaisies, by title; but all have something more material than just that in common. For all stemmed from the tradition of the Paris Consenatoire that an especially written flute piece—obviously an exacting one—should be played by all the candidates as the Morceau de concours; and that all the candidates who reached the required standard—not just the best of them—should be awarded the first prize (somebody must have been reading Lewis Carroll!).
Thus it is easy to make a judgement of Susan Milan's playing on this present occasion, which is that she has won the first prize; for although boards of flute professors (like other very good instrumentalists) tend to get bogged down in trivia (''I know it sounded right, but did you see how she fingered B minor?''), yet none, hearing this record could rate Susan Milan other than a marvellous player. And the pleasure of listening to these pieces in succession cannot be anything but very great; for not only do most of them offer lyrical sections to set off the fireworks, but the music is usually very agreeable (and not only in the case of the better-known composers) in its own right. Once only the Morceau de concours pattern is broken: this, on the face of it curiously, is by the only piece carrying the actual title. This was written by Faure for one of the annual sightreading tests, and its relative simplicity of outline could well be thought to break up the pattern very agreeably.
In this context, nobody will hesitate to give Susan Milan her own Premier Prix; and I would strongly suggest another Premier Prix for Ian Brown, the faultless accompanist, with perhaps a further one for the recorded quality of the disc. Yet, in the best traditions of conservatoire examining (and perhaps of criticism?) something has to be declared wrong, or all honour is lost. My own something? I really do wish Milan would do something about taming her vibrato. Sorry!'