Franck, Strauss, Widor

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Franck,Strauss,Widor
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Violin Sonata in A (arr. flute); Violin Sonata in E flat, Op. 18 (arr. flute)
PERFORMER: Emmanuel Pahud (flute), Eric Le Sage (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 557 8132
Flute sonatas from the Romantic era are reasonably rare, so thanks are due to Emmanuel Pahud for boosting the repertoire by transcribing Richard Strauss’s Violin Sonata for the instrument. As with several violinists before him, Pahud has recorded it with Franck’s Violin Sonata, here again transcribed for flute. Although written a year apart (1886 and 1887), these works emerge from very different circumstances: Strauss was 23 with the big hits of his career still to come, Franck, at 68, was four years from death. Pahud and accompanist Eric Le Sage inherently understand this. They exude a happy-go-lucky feel to Strauss’s lyrical first movement, adopt an innocent liberty to the central ‘Improvisation’ and take on the vital finale with fresh exuberance. Their performance of the Franck immediately appears more grandiose, with true poetry given to the meditational first movement; the emotionally mature Romance sounds opulent yet never gushes, while the canon of the last movement shifts from long gentle phrases to a thrilling end. Widor’s Suite is a bonus, further revealing both Pahud’s technical excellence and vast expressive range. The Pahud-Le Sage duo thinks, breathes and executes as one and the balanced recording reveals that the engineers aren’t afraid to treat it as a true partnership. Kate Sherriff

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