COMPOSERS: Martin & Messiaen,Martinu,Poulenc,Reinecke
WORKS: Flute Sonatas by Poulenc, Reinecke and Martinu; Martin: Ballade; Messiaen: Le merle noir
PERFORMER: Sharon Bezaly (flute), Ronald Brautigam (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BIS SACD-1729
Sharon Bezaly is rarely less than impressive. Her well-constructed programmes are performed with a mixture of virtuosity and rich tone, making her name almost a guarantee of quality.
Partnered here, as in the first volume of Masterworks, by the equally exceptional Ronald Brautigam, Bezaly provides another showcase for their talents. While there is much to admire, there is, for once, a significant caveat.
Martinu’s Sonata, written while in exile in the US, sparkles with breezy charm and Frank Martin’s delectable Ballade draws a rich vein of colour. Reinecke’s Sonata Undine is a charming work, even if the Intermezzo never quite achieves its Mendelssohnian aspirations.
Messiaen’s Le merle noir is impressive, especially for its changes of timbre, and yet it is also the key to the caveat, for it would benefit from more space.
Bezaly and Brautigam’s musical brilliance leads to a penchant for fast speeds that, while exciting in places, is often problematic, especially in Poulenc’s Sonata. It is not merely that the final Presto giocoso has an element of Keystone Kops about it, but the first movement sounds hurried, and they are too impatient to let the beauty of the Cantilena flourish.
Here, and in the Messiaen, Emmanuel Pahud (EMI) allows the music to breathe, even if he lacks the benefit of BIS’s SACD sound. Christopher Dingle