Solo Telemann: Fantasias for Solo Flute, Nos 1-12; plus solo flute works by Takemitsu, Karg-Elert, Widmann, Helps, Honegger, Pintscher, Ferroud, Berio, Pärt, Varèse & Marais
Emmanuel Pahud (flute)
Warner 9029570175 146:50 mins (2 discs)
Versatile virtuoso Emmanuel Pahud is a supremely accomplished Baroque flautist: The Flute King – Music from the Court of Frederick the Great (2011), and the JS and CPE Bach flute sonatas and concertos (2008 and 2016, respectively) were all well received. But the Berlin Phil player’s repertoire interests are wide ranging, and for this new solo undertaking, Pahud performs the Telemann Fantasias – alternating with 20th century and contemporary pieces.
Taken at face value, the order and selection of works seems entirely random (for example, Telemann’s Fantasia No. 11 is bookended by Berio’s Sequenza I and Arvo Pärt’s Estländler). However, the eccentric programme is carefully considered; repeated listening reveals new parallels between the pieces. It’s like eating a bag of pick ‘n’ mix where every sweet is deliciously interesting, and the aleatory element merely enhances the enjoyment.
Pahud is bold in his selection of contemporary music, sharing works from far-flung corners of the flute world. The extended techniques of Toru Takemitsu’s Voice, which requires the player to whisper and grunt into the headjoint, act as a counterpoint to the purity of Telemann’s neat melodies. The Fantasias, dressed in Pahud’s clean tone, are the sorbet to the Heston Blumenthal experimentalism of, say, Pintscher’s Beyond. I recently attended a piano recital that paired Stockhausen and Bach, layering pieces as Pahud has done. Two examples do not a trend make, yet Pahud has certainly caught the crest of a current programming wave.
The flautist’s customary rounded sound is pristinely captured throughout this quirky collection.