Kenneth Smith and Paul Rhodes have been playing together since 1986 and produced many recordings. Their 3-disc set commemorating the eminent French flutist Paul Taffanel (Divine Art 21371, May/June 2011: 198) belongs in every major library and woodwind collection. Here is a reissue of two previous recordings with a small addition. It surveys British flute music of the 20th Century, and there is also a sonata from the baroque flutist-composer John Ranish. The composers range from Granville Bantock (1868-1946) and Thomas Dunhill (1877-1946) to William Mathias (1934-92) and Peter Lamb (1925-2013).
The primary value of this program is that the selections are not played often, though all the pieces are published and certainly worth hearing. The style of these compositions is straightforward, tonal, and easily understood.
Smith was principal flutist of the Philharmonia Orchestra of London for nearly 30 years. His sound is rich and expressive and places him among the well-known British students of French flutist Marcel Moyse, who include Geoffrey Gilbert, Trevor Wye, William Bennett, and James Galway. The breathtaking beauty with which he plays the Adagio that opens the sonata by John Ranish is reason enough to get this recording. I did encounter a rather dull-sounding piano more than I would like, though the playing is quite fine. All the interpretation and phrasing is tasteful, exuberant, and shows that the two musicians are presenting these little-known pieces with as much commitment and artistry as anyone could.
Flutists should not hesitate to add anything by Kenneth Smith to their collections .
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