Collection: Works for Flute and Harp

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Bizet,Chopin,Debussy,Elgar,Faure
LABELS: Collins
PERFORMER: Jennifer Stinton (flute) Aline Brewer (harp)
CATALOGUE NO: 70202 DDD

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This plethora of predominantly French works for flute and harp spreads itself over two discs, one entitled ‘Romantic Works for Flute and Harp’, the other ‘A Contemporary Collection’. The contents are not as contrasting as one might expect. If all the pieces were reshuffled and some programmed on to the other disc, there would be no discernible hiccup in the flow of either CD.

The romantic collection spans the 1830s to the 1970s and includes transcriptions of music by Bizet, Chopin, Elgar, Fauré and Debussy. Only one work, Nocturne, Tyrolienne and Rondoletto by harpist François-Joseph Naderman and flautist Jean-Louis Tulou is written specifically for the instruments. Stinton and Brewer can pride themselves in their synchronisation of pace, colour and climaxes, but all too often impressionistic atmospheres become too real and lose their magic.

Heavy weather is made of an already clumsy transcription of Debussy’s Clair de Lune and in Fauré’s Fantaisie the wandering, wondering flute line of the opening movement is swallowed up in an aura of resonating harp strings. The contemporary disc is less saccharine mainly because the harp’s potential is properly realised. It is no longer reduced to a rippling accompaniment or upward-thrusting glissandi.

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The American Vincent Persichetti’s multi-movement Serenade No. 10 is enchanting in its mood changes but many of the most exhilarating sections – as with Damase’s Sonata and Alwyn’s Naiades: Fantasy – peak in the upper register, where Stinton becomes stilted by a squeezed embouchure and a tight, rather than rip-roaring sound results. More meat and less dessert please. Kate Sherriff