Revolution

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Devienne,Gianella,Gluck and Pleyel
LABELS: Warner Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Revolution
WORKS: Flute concertos by Devienne, Gianella, Gluck and Pleyel
PERFORMER: Emmanuel Pahud (flute); Basel Chamber Orchestra/Giovanni Antonini
CATALOGUE NO: 2564627678

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Emmanuel Pahud’s tribute to the French flute school journeys through three decades of the Revolutionary period, from the mellifluous style galant of Gluck’s G major Concerto to feisty, eclectic and militaristic works by Luigi Gianella, Ignaz Pleyel and François Devienne (known in his day as the ‘Mozart of the Flute’). The bravura and lyricism of Italian opera pervade throughout, and Pahud responds with playing of an aptly vocal quality, eloquently phrased and shaded according to the music’s emotion. His sound is by turns silvery as a coloratura soprano, dusky as a dramatic contralto.

One of the disc’s highlights is Devienne’s ‘dazzling and fiery’ E minor Concerto, a heroic warhorse of the flute repertoire which Pahud negotiates with daredevil courage and panache; not for nothing is he principal flautist of the Berlin Philharmonic. There is suave and polished playing, too, by the Basel Chamber Orchestra under Giovanni Antonini who shapes the music’s contours and highlights the pulsating rhythms, surging climaxes and driving energy that enhance its insurgent spirit. If I have one caveat, it is that these accounts are, if anything, rather too refined, the sound lacking the raw, edgy quality that is at the heart of this revolutionary music.

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Kate Bolton