Flute Recital

Author: 
Nicholas Anderson

Flute Recital

  • Premier livre de pièces de clavecin, Le Coucou
  • Air de Mr de Luly
  • Sonata for Flute and Harpsichord
  • Premier livre de pièces de clavecin (et al), La de Drummond
  • Sonata for Flute and Harpsichord
  • Fantaisie brillant on Halévy's 'La fée aux ros
  • Home sweet home
  • Winterreise, No. 1, Gute Nacht
  • Premier livre de pièces de clavecin, Le Coucou
  • Air de Mr de Luly
  • Sonata for Flute and Harpsichord
  • Premier livre de pièces de clavecin (et al), La de Drummond
  • Sonata for Flute and Harpsichord
  • Fantaisie brillant on Halévy's 'La fée aux ros
  • Home sweet home
  • Winterreise, No. 1, Gute Nacht

This issue will be primarily of interest to flautists since Stephen Preston plays no less than seven different instruments dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Sometimes he performs unaccompanied, at other times he is joined by Lucy Carolan who plays a variety of keyboard instruments—spinet, harpsichord, fortepiano and a ''Grand Pianoforte'' of 1822. Preston sensibly interlaces the smaller items with works of greater substance. Thus, following Daquin's Le coucou (flute and spinet) and an Air by Lully, arranged by Hotteterre ''Le Romain'', he plays a Flute Sonata in D major by Frederick the Great's flute teacher, Quantz. It's one of Quantz's more forward-looking sonatas with its concertante harpsichord part and 'rococo' gestures. Preston plays it with a virtuosity that, in the Presto finale, is quite breathtaking. It's too fast for me, but it would be churlish to overlook the remarkable technique required to achieve this velocity. The other sonata here is by the French eighteenth-century composer, Francois Devienne; here, Preston is accompanied by an attractive sounding fortepiano, c. 1800.
Not all of the remaining pieces in this unusual flute compendium are of comparable musical standing with the Quantz or Devienne but they are not without interest. There is a Fantaisie brillant, for instance, by Jean-Louis Tulou, based on Halevy's La fee aux roses, and Variations by Charles Nicholson (1795-1837) on Sir Henry Bishop's Home sweet home. Lucy Carolan wheels on a ''Grand Pianoforte'' by Clementi for the occasion and both artists give an affectionate account of this erstwhile household favourite. The only arrangement I found impossible to get on with was one by the father of modern flute technique, Theobald Boehm (1794-1881), of Schubert's opening song of Winterreise. The pathos and despair of ''Gute nacht'' is entirely absent from this drawing-room nonsense and, though the flute variations are mildly inventive, few listeners haunted by the melancholy spirit and desolation of Winterreise will want to put up with them. This item apart, I found Preston's recital engaging and decidedly off the beaten track. There is some wonderful playing here, both from him and Lucy Carolan but I felt for her as she soldiered on through the Schubert. Above average recorded sound and a preponderantly entertaining programme should attract listeners from beyond the coterie de la flute.'

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