Flute Concertos Nos 1 & 2; 12 Pieces for Flute and Orchestra; 5 Pieces for Flute and Piano
Claudia Stein (flute), Elisaveta Blumina (piano); Szczecin Philharmonic Orchestra/David Robert Coleman
Naxos 8.573931 68:32 mins
We have to thank Russian flautist Alexander Korneyev for inspiring Mieczysław Weinberg to compose a substantial number of works for his instrument. This enterprising release, featuring Claudia Stein, who plays in Daniel Barenboim’s Berlin Staatskapelle, brings almost all of them together on disc for the first time.
A sequence of miniatures, dating from 1947, covers almost half the programme. The Twelve Pieces for Flute and Piano, which Weinberg later orchestrated in 1983, is particularly attractive – a series of short and succinct character studies that cover a surprisingly wide range of moods, from the playful ‘Burleske’ and the technical high-jinks of the ‘Etude’ to the perfumed elegance of the ‘Waltz’ and the nostalgic warmth of the ‘Nocturne’. In contrast, the Five Pieces, only discovered relatively recently, are conceived on a more ambitious scale, featuring three rhythmically incisive dance movements, as well as touching allusions to Debussy’s La fille aux cheveux de lin in the opening movement, appropriately entitled ‘Landschaft’ (Landscape).
Of the two flute concertos, the First (1961) is undoubtedly the most direct, with rhythmically dynamic fast outer movements framing a reflective Largo, whereas the Second (1987) is largely restrained and austere, despite the unexpected quotations from the ‘Dance of the Blessed Spirits’ from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice and the famous ‘Badinerie’ from Bach’s Suite No. 2 in B minor that find their way into the Finale.
Stein delivers charismatic and strongly expressive performances of all these works and despite a slightly thin sound in the upper registers of the strings, the Szczecin Philharmonic under David Robert Coleman offer sterling support throughout.