Boulez, Jolivet, Dutilleux, Varèse

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Boulez,Dutilleux,Jolivet,Varese
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Sonatines for Flute & Piano
WORKS: Sonatine;Le merle noir; Cinq incantations; Sonatine; Densité 21.5
PERFORMER: Philippe Bernold (flute), Alexandre Tharaud (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901710

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It is tempting to think of this marvellous programme as masterpieces of the modern flute repertoire. They are certainly masterpieces, and each has entered the flute repertoire, but they can scarcely be given the epithet ‘modern’ when all were composed by the middle of the last century. Philippe Bernold and Alexandre Tharaud have assembled a recital of flute pieces by the French composers who had the greatest impact on postwar musical thought. Unlike similar rival collections, there is not a single musical weak link in this recital even if, with the exception of Jolivet’s Cinq incantations, these pieces are not representative of their respective composers’ mature styles. Nevertheless, each is a classic example of the progressions made in writing for the flute after Debussy. In this respect, this release is a logical and welcome progression from Bernold’s earlier delectable exploration of Debussy’s music for flute on the same label. His bewitching tone and capacity for minute gradations of volume and timbre are again much in evidence, particularly in Varèse’s Density 21.5 and the inner movements of Jolivet’s Cinq incantations. Elsewhere Bernold also demonstrates a harder, though not harsher, edge, and Tharaud is exemplary throughout, especially in Boulez’s fiendish Sonatine. Recommended. Christopher Dingle