REINECKE; NIELSEN Flute Concertos
The adjective ‘great’ in the title of this disc perhaps needs some qualification in one or two cases but without question the concerto that Nielsen wrote in 1926 merits the supreme artistry that Sharon Bezaly brings to it, both in terms of deft, discerningly harnessed virtuosity and in her supple, sinuous shaping of the music. Neeme Järvi and the Residentie Orkest Den Haag astutely etch in the lively, spicy instrumental context and commentary for a performance that has a real sparkle and strength. The other substantial work here is Carl Reinecke’s D major Concerto of 1908, which in its tone makes amends for the fact that Brahms never wrote a concerto for flute. The gorgeous Concertino of 1902 by Cécile Chaminade offers potential both for effervescence and for endearing lyricism, Bezaly demonstrating here that she would have swept the board in the Paris Conservatoire’s competition for which the piece was written.
Far less well known is the little Largo and Allegro that Tchaikovsky wrote in his early twenties, originally for strings and two flutes but here done in an arrangement for one flute by Ernest Sauter: it is scarcely a masterpiece but intriguingly harbours traits that were to be manifested more fully in maturity. A shadowy, reflective, airy Poem of 1918 by Charles Griffes contrasts with the genial Flute Sonata by Poulenc, in Lennox Berkeley’s orchestration, and Kalevi Aho’s delightful arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee ensures that this showcase for Bezaly’s radiant talents ends with a buzz.