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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



FROM A TO Z - VOL. 1
Kalevi AHO
(b 1949): Solo III (1990-91) [13.08]
Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH
(1714-1788): Sonata in A minor for Solo Flute, W.132 [ 15.03]
Malcolm ARNOLD
(b1921): Fantasy for Flute, Op.89 (1966) [4.30]
Jurriaan ANDRIESSEN
(b1925): Pastorale d'été [3.07]
Eugene BOZZA
(1905 - 1991): Image pour flute seul, Op.38 (1940) [5.13]
Johann Sebastian BACH
(1685-1750): Partita in A Minor for Solo Flute, BWV 1013 [17.40]
Luciano BERIO
(b1925): Sequenza I per flauto solo (1958) [7.23]
Sharon Bezaly (flute)
Recorded October, 2000 at Furuby Church, Sweden
BIS CD-1159
[67.45]
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This is the first in a projected series of up to 12 CDs in which the Israeli flautist, Sharon Bezaly plans to explore the repertoire for solo flute on an alphabetical basis. As will be seen from the track listing above, the contents of this disc cover some three centuries though twentieth century music predominates. This no doubt reflects the soloist's penchant for contemporary pieces.

A few comments about the individual items. The work by the Finnish composer, Aho began life as a competition test piece based on quarter-tones. Subsequently he added a second, fast movement. The performance here is clearly authoritative for Aho is quoted in the booklet thus: "When I heard for the first time Sharon Bezaly playing my flute piece, Solo III, I felt that I had experienced the presence of a wonder. Sharon Bezaly is the most extraordinary flautist I have ever heard." Praise indeed! Aho's music is clearly extremely demanding to play but it seems to hold no terrors for Miss Bezaly.

With the Sonata by C.P.E. Bach we are on much more traditional ground. The piece was written in 1747 when the composer was employed as a musician at the court of King Frederick the Great of Prussia. Whether the flautist king ever played this work I do not know but if he did I am sure he would have found it an enjoyable challenge. Bezaly plays the whole piece beautifully but I particularly liked the grace and poise which she brings to the opening Poco adagio.

Malcolm Arnold's Fantasy lasts less than five minutes but packs a great deal of incident into this short time span. As usual with this composer you feel that he has a complete understanding of the instrument for which he is writing and so he is able to push the soloist to the limit without ever being less than thoroughly musical and never giving any impression of striving for mere effect.

I wish I could say the same of Luciano Berio, whose Sequenza closes the disc. I'm sure that others more expert than I and more in tune with Berio's music will find more in this work than I did. To my ears, however, this appears as little more than a succession of random sounds and effects in which I find no enjoyment at all though Miss Bezaly is clearly lavishing all her considerable skill on the piece.

Placed immediately before the Berio is the Partita by Bach. Here we have everything which, to me, is missing from the Berio: order, grace, form and melody. In short, the work of a master. Bezaly performs the piece superbly. There are several fine things on the CD but this is the pick of the bunch.

The collection is completed by two short pieces, one by the Dutch composer, Jurriaan Andriessen, the other by the Frenchman, Eugene Bozza. Neither plumbs great depths but both are well worth hearing, particularly when played with the sort of advocacy they are accorded here.

This is a release which is bound to be of great interest to flautists but which should appeal also to non-specialist listeners possessed of enquiring ears. The programme is intelligently arranged on the CD to present a satisfying and contrasting recital in itself. The performances are of the highest possible order and are given recorded sound to match. Well written, informative notes complete a very successful start to this project.

John Quinn

July 2002

News from BIS

 

We would like to share with you our great pleasure at the recent successes of BIS’s brilliant young flutist Sharon Bezaly. It is said that all good things come in threes and this certainly seems to be true in this case!

Good News Item 1: Ms Bezaly is at the moment in Tokyo rehearsing for her début with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. She will be playing two concerts in Tokyo - one in Suntory Hall – Japan’s most prestigious orchestral venue - and the other in Orchard Hall. Ms Bezaly will perform Takemitsu’s “I Hear the Water Dreaming” for flute and orchestra and alternately Fantaisie Pastorale Hongroise by Doppler and the Carmen Suite by Borne. (We shall be releasing a stunning recording of Ms Bezaly playing the Takemitsu piece with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Tadaaki Otaka this autumn (BIS-CD-1300).)

Good News Item 2: We have just received news that Ms Bezaly has been chosen for one of the highly prestigious Klassik-Echos 2002 Awards in Germany. Here she is in very good company as other prize-winners include such illustrious colleagues as Angela Gheorghiu, Evgeny Kissin, Hilary Hahn and Claudio Abbado. The award is made jointly by the Deutsche Phono-Akademie and the broadcasting company ZDF. The televised award ceremony will take place in October 2002.

Good News Item 3: To top it all off, Ms Bezaly’s CD featuring the “A-B” of solo flute music (BIS-CD-1159) was given a golden tuning fork (Le Diapason d’or) in the July issue of Diapason, the leading French music review. This recommendation for a superb disc joins similar recommendations from Klassik Heute, FonoForum, Record Geijutsu and CD Compact as well as superlatives from the other leading music magazines. Needless to say, we are looking forward to reading the reviews of the recently released “Night Music” (BIS-CD-1099) on which Ms Bezaly performs an inspired work by the late and great conductor and composer Antal Doráti, ably supported by Denmark’s Aalborg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Moshe Atzmon.





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