ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Café Au Lait
PERFORMER: Sharon Bezaly (flute); Roland Pöntinen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1239
This disc of turn-of-the-century flute pieces focuses on the frothier end of the repertoire. Sharon Bezaly was a student at the Paris Conservatoire, a place where several of these works germinated as contest pieces. Effervescent they may be, but under Bezaly and her thrilling accompanist Roland Pöntinen, the sweetness is never saccharine. In Paul Taffanel’s fantastical Andante pastoral et scherzettino, she adopts a wonderfully lackadaisical approach to the Andante, yet her tone is crystal clear rather than drowning in vibrato. Again, with Enescu’s Cantabile and Presto and the overtly Romantic Fantaisie by Taffanel’s pupil Philippe Gaubert, she avoids whimsical sentimentality, instead embracing a spirit of exuberant freedom. Of the French works, only Fauré’s Fantaisie seems lacking timbral variety: its harmonic twists could have benefited from greater interpretative mystery. The two largest pieces – Franz Doppler’s Fantaisie pastorale hongroise and American Charles Tomlinson Griffes’s Poem – make a refreshing break from French Impressionist nuances, with the Griffes in particular offering more progressive harmonies and less predictable runs. With two previous albums of flute-and-piano miniatures under her belt, is it not time for Bezaly to tackle some of the heftier sonatas or concertos?