Debussy, Caplet, Roussel, Godard, PiernŽ & Saint-Sa‘ns

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Caplet,Debussy,Godard,Pierné & Saint-Sa‘ns,Roussel
LABELS: Alpha
ALBUM TITLE: Une flžte invisibleÉ
WORKS: Various
PERFORMER: Sandrine Piau (soprano), Hervé Lamy (tenor), Gilles de Talhouët (flute), Arthur Schoonderwoerd (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 96
This is quite simply marvellous. Une flûte invisible is an exquisitely planned collection of French music from the turn of the 20th century, bringing together, on the one hand, settings by Saint-Saëns, Pierné, Godard and Caplet of the same Victor Hugo poem, and, on the other, musical references to Pan, predominantly from Debussy. The brainchild of flautist Gilles de Talhouët, the pieces unfold in groups of three or four, each group beginning with a movement from Debussy’s Epigraphes antiques,

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each having one or two works involving flute, and each having one or two songs. The whole collection creates ‘an imaginary chamber opera in six acts’ exploring contrasting French views of the flute: the pastoral and the tragic, or, more poetically, the shepherd and the satyr. If that were not enough to whet the appetite of Francophiles, period instruments are used.

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Sandrine Piau and Hervé Lamy capture the mood both of each song and the whole project, from the desolation of Debussy’s ‘Le tombeau des Naïades’ to Saint-Saëns’ upbeat duet ‘Viens!’. In Schoonderwoerd’s hands, the less ‘pure’ tuning of the 1907 Erard’s upper register shimmers like dust in sunlight, while De Talhouët’s wooden flutes are bewitching. Christopher Dingle