One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             



Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Philippe GAUBERT (1879-1941)
Complete works for flute, Volume 2

Sonata for flute and piano (1917) [15:32]
Second Sonata (1924) [15:27]
Third Sonata (1934) [12:39]
Sonatine Quasi Fantasia (1937) [11:59]
Fenwick Smith (flute), Sally Pinkas (piano)
Recorded in the Sonic Temple, Roslindale, Massachusetts, Feb. 16th 2001 (Sonata), Sept. 30th 2002 (Third Sonata), and Jan.25th 2003 (Second Sonata and Sonatine)
NAXOS 8.557306 [55:38]


A CD of twentieth century sonatas for flute and piano may not necessarily sound very inviting. Nevertheless, I urge you to listen to these, for Gaubert, though his name probably means little to those other than flute players, was far more than a simple virtuoso instrumentalist-composer. He was, by all accounts, a superlative flautist; but his music reveals a fluent compositional technique and a great gift for melodic invention. Fauré was an obvious and natural influence, yet, as even a casual listening to the opening of the 1917 sonata reveals, Gaubert had also imbibed the harmonic language of Debussy and Ravel.

Itís also instructive to compare this sonata with the attractive 1939 Sonatina for flute (or treble recorder) by Lennox Berkeley, an Englishman who was nevertheless temperamentally very close to the French composers of that era. Gaubertís music has something of the same bitter-sweet sensuality that one finds in Berkeley.

A great bonus is Gaubertís excellent writing for the piano, here sensitively realised by Sally Pinkas. She is a fine duet partner for the outstanding Fenwick Smith Ė there is a tangible sense of musical collaboration between them Ė no sense of a virtuoso performer with his back to the piano playing to the gallery.

And what of Fenwick Smithís playing? He is a very distinguished performer, and a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which gives an idea of the level of his accomplishment. His tone is very beautiful, his technique unobtrusively flawless. The way he shapes phrases, flexibly yet without distortion, is a joy and a lesson in itself. He also deploys a great variety of articulation, and, perhaps above all, has a remarkably wide dynamic range, which he uses to bring this music to life more successfully than any other player I have heard, even his talented compatriot Jeffrey Kahner.

It is difficult, almost invidious, to choose between the three sonatas; yet my firm favourite remains the Second Sonata of 1924. Its first movement begins with an ingenuous pentatonic melody, which is then treated with considerable harmonic resource. There is a particularly poignant Andante, with a wonderfully liquid central section, very Debussian, while the final assez vif is unusually restrained and thoughtful, far from a runaway romp. This is an exquisite little work.

I want to pay a special compliment to the Naxos recording. Itís never easy to achieve the correct balance between a solo wind instrument and piano, but producer Joel Gordon has got it exactly right. Altogether a very fine issue.

Gwyn Parry-Jones

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk Acousmatic Music


October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus


Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.