Ibert: Chamber Music for Flute

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Albany
WORKS: Chamber Music for Flute
PERFORMER: Sue Ann Kahn (flute), Andrew Willis (piano), etc
‘British Flute Music’. Hmm… And post-Second World War repertoire. You could be tempted to move on swiftly. Don’t! It’s high time these six beguiling works by George Benjamin, William Alwyn, York Bowen, Elizabeth Maconchy and Roberto Gerhard are recognised on an equal footing with the popular French pieces which so often monopolise CDs and concert programmes of 20th-century flute repertoire.

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Culliford is an impassioned flautist whose interpretations here are spot on. The expansive, climactic phrases and flashy passages of York Bowen’s Sonata, and the haunting atmosphere created by chromatic configurations in Alwyn’s are superbly executed. Benjamin’s Flight must surely be seen as the successor to Debussy’s Syrinx. It displays fully the flute’s compatibility with freedom and fantasy. It’s virtuosic by nature, but begins and ends with mellow, low-register glissandi.

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On a CD of Ibert’s chamber music for flute, Sue Ann Kahn comes across as less motivated. True, the majority of Ibert’s pieces here are frolicsome, but the full subtleties of his whimsical wit are not quite met. That said, Kahn does produce some humorous gems, revealing Ibert as a master of the contrary. Greater oomph and more variety of expression would ensure that the attention of the discerning listener was fully held. Kate Sherriff