Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ibert, Rodrigo, Borne: Flute Concertos

There is absolutely nothing here to criticize. Sharon Bezaly is one of the world's top flutists; the repertoire has been chosen with her usual intelligence and imagination; she plays the living daylights out of all of three pieces; the accompaniments are simply marvelous; balances are perfect; the engineering is state-of-the-art stunning. So that's the review, but I would like to take a moment and say a few words about the music.

Rodrigo's Concierto Pastoral sounds like the most atrociously difficult flute work ever conceived. The opening alone is an endurance test of frightening virtuosity, and Bezaly plays it with such charm and finesse that you have to hear it to believe it. Personally, I rate the piece much higher than the ever-popular Concierto de Aranjuez, but you can listen and draw your own conclusions. Borne's Fantasie Brillante (as arranged here by Giancarlo Chiaramello) is one of about a billion works based on tunes from Bizet's Carmen. It's wholly delightful, even if the setting as a flute solo of the ominous "fate" theme from the opera's introduction turns out to be unintentionally funny. It's kind of like doing the same thing to the 1812 Overture, if you know what I mean.

Ibert's Flute Concerto of course is the major repertory staple on this disc, and competition comes from the superb Emmanuel Pahud on EMI. As always when Bezaly goes head to head with the best, she's fully up to the challenge. Pahud's tone is uniquely huge and "fat", but if anything Bezaly is even more lively in the outer movements, and for my money she phrases the melodies with greater imagination (check out the those delicious little tenutos in the concerto's opening solo). Pahud's coupling, the flute transcription of Khachaturian's Violin Concerto, also is much less desirable than the works presented here. You always get the sense that Bezaly has thought about the whole program; she's a musician first, a virtuoso second, and gratifyingly concerned about good presentation. So it all adds up to another winner from Bezaly and BIS--and the Rodrigo really is a show-stopper. [1/15/2007] --David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

MP3 320 · 125 MB

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