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Romantic & Virtuoso Music for Flutes & Piano

Noemi Gyori, Gergely Madaras (flute), Alexander Ullman (piano) (Rubicon)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Romantic & Virtuoso Music for Flutes & Piano
Works by F Doppler, K Doppler and Kuhlau
Noemi Gyori, Gergely Madaras (flute), Alexander Ullman (piano)
Rubicon RCD1078   77:38 mins

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The piano has Liszt, the violin has Paganini – and the flute has the Doppler brothers, the 19th-century duo responsible for some of the most charming and virtuosic music in the woodwind repertoire. Unlike Liszt and Paganini, Franz and Karl Doppler are only well known to flautists, despite recordings from Emmanuel Pahud (Farao) and Claudi Arimany’s excellent 12-volume set (Capriccio). The Dopplers were born in Lemberg, now Lviv in Ukraine, and took on prominent performing-composing roles across Europe. Just as Liszt made the most of the newly invented piano’s technical abilities, so the Dopplers embraced the flute’s freshly patented Boehm system, which opened up increasingly complex possibilities. The brothers’ idiomatic pieces are expertly played by husband-and-wife team Noemi Gyori and Gergely Madaras, who, having spent recent years pursuing their individual performing careers, reconnected with the duets during the pandemic.

The light-hearted Fantaisie sur des motifs hongrois and easy-listening Andante et Rondo are supplemented by the darker Rigoletto-fantaisie, a transcription of the Verdi opera that Franz and Karl Doppler toured widely. There are extended sections where the flutes have the same rhythm (typical of the era); Gyori and Madaras make the timing appear deceptively simple. As elsewhere, the ensemble work between flutes and piano (Alexander Ullman) is virtually faultless. Friedrich Kuhlau’s three-movement trio is the filling in a Doppler sandwich: as a pianist and friend of Beethoven, Kuhlau’s work – straddling Classical and Romantic styles – gives Ullman the chance to be collaborator rather than accompanist, a role he clearly relishes.

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Claire Jackson