Poulenc, Jolivet, Dutilleux, Milhaud, Sancan, Ibert, Messiaen
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Paris Ð French Music for Flute & Piano
WORKS: Flute Sonata; Chant de Linos
PERFORMER: Emmanuel Pahud (flute), Eric le Sage (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 56488 2
Last April Emmanuel Pahud, principal flautist with the Berlin Philharmonic, won great praise for his debut CD of Mozart, and he’s sure to win more with Paris, a captivating recital of 20th-century French pieces. Yes, he’s flashy and congenial wherever possible – with this repertoire that’s fine – but he draws from a multi-coloured timbral palette and moves from big gestures to naive melodies with acrobatic ease and complete conviction. That is his forte.
Opening with Poulenc’s lyrical Sonata, Pahud soon sheds any notion of his instrument’s bird-twittering associations in Dutilleux’s Sonatine. Although he brings out the Romantic, dramatic elements in Sancan’s seldom-recorded Sonatine, it is in Pahud’s interpretations of Ibert, Milhaud, Messiaen and Jolivet that his wit, intensity and superb communication skills are most revealing.
British flautist Julian Sperry is an altogether more intimate player. Climaxes aren’t as great, his vocabulary is smaller, but he’s intelligent and capable. Judging by the close miking, he enjoys the less glossy approach, allowing intakes of breath and key clacks to be fully audible. Again, it’s an interesting early 20th-century recital, this time including a moody Sicilienne and amusing Burlesque by Italian-born Casella and a waffly sonata by Pierné. Sperry is beguiling in the Adagios of both the Martin? and Berkeley, but I wished he would let rip a bit more in the fast movements. Kate Sherriff