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Featuring the flute

A recital by
Jeanne Baxtresser -
reviewed by

'... lovely but relatively rarely heard pieces.'

Jeanne Baxtresser - Chamber Music for Flute - Davienne, Dring, Copland, Gaubert, Barber. © 2006 Cala Records Ltd

Jeanne Baxtresser, former Principal Flute of the New York Philharmonic, has assembled a fascinating programme with a mid-twentieth century focus. Its highlights, for me at least, are Barber's Summer Music and Gaubert's Watercolours, two lovely but relatively rarely heard pieces.

Philippe Gaubert (1879-1941) is better known to flute players (especially for the Methode he wrote with his mentor Taffanel) than to the rest of the world but his compositions are well crafted in their typically French way: place him between Fauré and Ravel. His Three Watercolours are all about harmony, colour and mood. The first of the set is the biggest (at nearly seven minutes) and most dramatic but all three are immediately appealing [listen -- track 8, 0:00-0:59].

The second half of the disc is given over to American composers, represented by a wind quintet and two pieces for flute and piano.

Barber's Canzone is a gently reflective piece which follows Gaubert quite naturally; the admirable liner notes tell us that it began as an Elegy. Copland's Duo is on a larger scale, sonata-size at nearly fifteen minutes, and is also elegiac in that it was commissioned to commemorate the life of William Kincaid, the premier American flutist of his generation. It is much more lyrical than most of Copland's other late works, evoking Appalachian Spring [listen -- track 16, 1:02-2:07].

Summer Music for Wind Quintet has much the same atmosphere: relaxed and occasionally playful, it could be 'afternoon' to the Duo's 'evening'. Barber's handling of the tonal possibilities of the wind quintet is wonderfully deft [listen -- track 13, 3:27-4:37], especially when one considers that the work was his first for the medium. Six movements, mostly very short, form a kind of arch structure spanning nearly twelve minutes.

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Copyright © 12 May 2007 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia


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