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Romantic Flute Concertos
Ignaz MOSCHELES (1794-1870)

Concertante in F major (with Joris Van den Hauwe (oboe))
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)

Concertino in D major
Jules MOUQUET (1867-1949)

Pan et les oiseaux Op.15
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)

Tarantelle Op.6 (with Guy Vanderborght (clarinet))
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)

Berceuse Op.16 (orchestrated Y. Talmi)
Morceau de concours (orchestrated Y. Talmi)
Sicilienne Op.78 (orchestrated Y. Talmi)
Fantasie Op.79 (orchestrated Y. Talmi)
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)

Pièce en forme de Habanera (orchestrated A. Hoeré)
Eugène DAMARÉ (1840-1919)

La merle blanc Op.161
Marc Grauwels (flute and piccolo)
Orchestre symphoniques de la Radio et Télévision Belge/André Vandernoot
Recorded in the Grand Auditorium de la Radio de Bruxelles, January 1990
NAXOS 8.555977 [59.15]


Though Marc Grauwels’ notes speak exclusively of the French flute tradition – he is also the intrepid soloist in this entertaining disc – Moscheles’ and Donizetti’s works were conscripted, as it were, to that tradition. That in itself is hardly surprising as the French woodwind tradition was then pre-eminent and was to remain so until Fauré and Ravel’s time. For all that the tradition encompassed unrivalled depth of expression it also encompassed roulades of technical brilliance, showpieces, operatic paraphrases, test pieces, morceaux and conservatoire test pieces. It also embraced the concertante form and we have some prime examples here if not quite the claimed concertos.

Donizetti’s contribution is the earliest, a ten-minute Concertino of great charm and Beethovenian inheritance, and which, whilst not being especially memorable melodically, keeps a fine balance between the dictates of solo and tutti separation. Moscheles is back in business discographically and his Piano Concertos are making themselves known once again as more than of merely antiquarian interest. In truth he’s never entirely left the catalogues but it’s still a pleasure to encounter such skilful, crafted and sensitive music. His Concertante is written for flue, oboe and orchestra and has a fine ear for the registral differences of the two solo instruments and for sweeping characterisation. At thirteen minutes it doesn’t outstay its welcome – indeed its elegance and grandeur and the interplay between soloists (fluttering articulation and witty imitative writing) are a sheer delight. Saint-Saëns gives us a pert and convincing Tarantelle, his Op.6 incidentally, full of chirpy unison writing for the flute and clarinet soloist - as before Marc Grauwels is here joined by another fine soloist – and a splash of the military. Fauré’s quartet of works are in orchestrations by Yoav Talmi and they work well enough – the Fantasie is the most consistently attractive in this guise and receives a commensurately winning performance. After the Ravel we end with a flourish – a big brass bandy La merle blanc by Eugène Damaré and it certainly makes a suitably effective contrast, with Grauwels putting his piccolo to the test – and winning. But I’ve left the best to last, an exquisitely beautiful Pan et les oiseaux by Jules Mouquet – there is a version for flute and piano as well. Bathed in Virgilian waters, languorous and deep, this is suffused in sunlight and coiling twists of meadow grass, a gorgeous and captivating piece, no more than seven minutes long. As they used to say in the old days, it’s worth the price of admission on its own. Excellent performances add to the very real charm of this disc.

Jonathan Woolf

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