Kenneth Smith has been a principal flute of the Philharmonia since 1983, studied with James Galway and Marcel Moyse, and has released several CDs with Paul Rhodes, some dedicated to British composers. In this CD of ‘flute classics’, which is the fifth produced by the partnership between Smith and the pianist Paul Rhodes [for Divine Art], he presents well-known romantic miniatures, such as Saint-Saëns’ The Swan , Rachmaninov’s Vocalise and Fauré’s Berceuse , as well as showpieces such as Borne’s Carmen Fantasie Brillante . Some may groan at a programme of such ubiquitous works, yet as soon as Smith plays the first note of the Chaminade Concertino , you realize that listening to him is most worthwhile.
As the title of the disc suggests, Smith concentrates his efforts on the vocal nature of the works, truly bringing them to life through evenness of tone and an individual singing quality throughout the register, and always with flawless intonation. In the less frequently recorded, and rather short, Chopin Variations on a theme of Rossini (‘Non piú mesta’ from La Cenerentola ), his flute sings like a soprano, so that even his brisk staccato is infused with the kind of life and expression that would echo around a concert hall.
Kenneth Smith’s wonderful high clarity in the high register of the Saint-Saëns was exceptional but never over overdone, and in the Fauré he showed off his palette of tone colour by varying his vibrato style. Smith’s ability to make seamless, dramatic shifts in colouring is simply inspiring. These tunes may be well-known old warhorses of the repertoire, but you could not better their performance
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