Wallace, Copland, Willey, Kennan & Beach

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Copland,Kennan & Beach,Wallace,Willey
LABELS: Summit
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: American Landscape
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Richard Sherman (flute), Ralph Votapek (piano)
There is 20 minutes or so of original music for flute and piano here: William Wallace’s incisive Toccata, surely less of a homage to Prokofiev (as his subtitle says) than to Bartók’s rhythms; James Willey’s well-varied but coherent Duo; and Kent Kennan’s simple and effective Threnody. For the rest, the Copland is not his late Duo for flute and piano, but a transcription of the 1943 Violin Sonata – and although a surprising amount of the violin part can be played without alteration on the flute, the wind instrument cannot match the violin’s variety of attack, and the balance of registers is all wrong: what ought to be searing high climaxes come out unpleasantly shrill at the very top of the flute’s compass. Amy Beach’s richly Romantic 1896 Sonata is similarly adapted from a violin piece: while most of it sounds perfectly acceptable on the flute, I suspect all of it would sound better on the instrument it was meant for. The performers are more than competent, if sometimes a little unimaginative in colouring and phrasing. But they can’t convince me that the main items on this disc are of much interest to anyone other than the most single-minded flute fan. Anthony Burton