The definition of ‘cantilena’ is a sustained, smooth-flowing melodic line. Listening to the varied pieces on this very well filled disc the word seems highly appropriate. Both the soloists here were trained at Trinity College in London and have performed as a duo since 2007. This is their second recording. I have not heard their first CD which offers more standard repertoire.
I’m sure that for many of us the name Widor conjures up the Organ and his “Symphony No.5”, much loved at weddings. Widor wrote the Suite op. 34 for a fellow Professor at the Conservatoire, Paul Taffanel (1844-1908). Taffanel must have been a highly accomplished player because the piece, throughout its four movements is full of mechanical difficulties. These are ably overcome by Odinn Baldvinsson. My opinion of this work is largely favourable even if I have to admit that the flute is not my favourite instrument. The music has a clear French identity that is appealing, I particularly liked the interplay of the two instruments in the final movement Vivace . Whilst I have not heard any other recordings of this piece the present version seemed well accomplished.
Cécile Chaminade was a new name to me although there are quite a few recordings of her works that have been reviewed here. Like the Widor this charming piece was written for Taffanel and once again the technique required is considerable. In the excellent but unattributed notes there is the sadly dubious story that Chaminade wrote the work for a former lover after he jilted her. This would certainly be an unusual reaction. This interesting and melodic work shows that Chaminade was a composer who deserves to be better known and one I shall return to. I want to hear more by her.
The next piece by Dutilleux does not seem to be in the same league as the first two. It seems slightly aimless and to be fair the highly critical composer himself didn’t think much of it. The next piece by the Georgian composer Taktakishvili is most attractive. It is in three movements and is one of his most popular works. It displays a contrast between humour and a more sober tone. The second movement Aria is most moving and it would be interesting to know the background to his inspiration. The finale Allegro Scherzando is much more lively and brings this excellent piece to an end. I will be looking out for more by Taktakishvili.
Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango is pretty well known these days but I remember the excitement when I first heard this work, about fifteen years ago, introduced by a brother-in-law. This is the first recording for flute and piano and whilst there are certain constraints on how a piano can replicate a guitar Patricia Romero makes a good effort. This unusual arrangement, which works extremely well, makes for a highly suitable ending to this disc.
Throughout the CD one is impressed by the artists’ technical prowess but also there appears to be a real insight and empathy between them.
Nearly eighty minutes of flute and piano may seem too much of a good thing but as so often, I’d suggest listening to this disc in several stages although there is certainly no lack of variety. The work that most appealed was the Taktakishvili but all have something to say and none of them can be said to have been over-recorded. The recording, made appropriately enough in Trinity School, is very sympathetic to the players who on my high-end system sound as if they’re in the room. The notes too are very fine and informative without any condescension.
All in all, this recital surprised me by its quality of composition and diversity. I look forward to more from this duo.
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