WORKS: Nineteenth Century Flute & Piano Duos
PERFORMER: Kirsten Spratt (flute), Elizabeth Mucha (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 003 DDD
This collection of Romantic salon and contest pieces from the 19th century continues to reveal this young British duo’s penchant for combining well-known with rarely recorded works. The album is typical of the state-of-the-art in flute repertoire during this period with its predominance of compositions by Frenchmen – Hüe, Widor and Büsser and/or professional flautists – Taffanel, Boehm and Franz Doppler.
Hüe’s Fantaisie was a competition piece at the Paris Conservatoire, and, in its display of exotic influences from his travels to Africa and the Orient, is by far the most sophisticated work chosen here. Most of the others, particularly those by the flautists, have rather uninspiring, if majestic, piano parts, leaving the flute in the twittering limelight with almost full responsibility to sustain interest. Spratt and Mucha dip in and out of the emotional sways – from extensive passages of pastoral undulations to spiky staccato chases or extravagant cadenzas over a rumbling bass – with verve.
Spratt’s enthusiasm is full on, but in order to contrast with the chromatic swirls or shrill, vibrant vibrato of her top register, she should seize the opportunity to make the pervasive pauses more pregnant and really sink into the relaxed passages with greater abandon. Kate Sherriff