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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    


 

AVAILABILITY

Arbitrium

Unaccompanied Czech Flute
Antonín STAMITZ (1717-1757)

8 Caprices for solo flute [23:53]
Jindřich FELD (b. 1925)

Quattro Pieces pour Flute seule (1954)
Jan KLUSÁK (b. 1934)

1-4-3-2-5-6-7-10-9-8-11 for solo Flute (1965) [3:15]
Invenzionetta for solo flute (1971) [2:09]
Jan RYCHLÍK (1916-1964)

Quattro Partite per Flauto solo (1954) [25:50]
Zdeněk Bruderhans (flute)

rec. Elder Hall, Adelaide University, S. Australia, 1st May 1992 & 3rd October 1993.
ARBITRIUM RECORDS 1111 [63:11]

 

Zdeněk Bruderhans is former principal flautist of the Prague Radio Symphony and Grand Prize winner of the Prague Spring Festival Competition. He was Professor and Dean of Music at the University of Adelaide when this issue was released, and with Abitrium Records being an Australian label we begin to see the connection – a Czech programme performed by a Czech flautist in Adelaide must however make this CD something of a rarity.

Just over an hour of any unaccompanied orchestral instrument might be considered something of a challenge, but the Elder Hall provides us with a nice, resonant acoustic. Bruderhans’ flute is given plenty of ‘presence’ without having a microphone parked under his nose, so there are few acoustic nasties waiting in the high registers.

Being a flautist myself, I can imagine nothing worse than having a recording of mine picked at by another flautist, so I would like to reassure potential purchasers and students that any remarks I might have are of course subjective. Should the programme attract - and you won’t find this repertoire anywhere else in a big hurry - you will find that this is a fine recital disc, and in general a worthwhile addition to any flute collection.

Stamitz’s 8 Caprices might more normally be considered as study rather than concert material by many flautists, but as a contemporary of Mozart Stamitz’s works stand as the Classical equivalent of Telemann’s 12 Fantasias in the Baroque. Never one to be dogmatic about interpretation I am reluctant to pick the bones of every phrase, and in any case Bruderhans’ playing is idiomatic and technically proficient. I’m not always 100% with him on intonation, and his sound sometimes has a slightly strangled ‘throat vibrato’ quality which worries me a little. The second Andante Caprice is a case in point, with the added, smaller problem of rising and falling intonation with increasing or decreasing dynamic. The more lively movements come off better, and Bruderhans’ articulation is powerful and rapid. Other aspects are there to be agreed or disagreed with, and students can make up their own minds or discuss such things with their teachers – hearing recordings like this is always useful, if only so you can say, ‘oh no, I wouldn’t do it like that’ or, ‘wow! so that’s how you do it…’

Jindřich Feld is a name all of us flautists should know and respect, and his Concerto and Sonata for flute are among the best in the repertoire. The Four Pieces are powerful and expressive solo works, with a meatily serial Méditation as a first movement, a wild Caprice, an Hommage to Bartòk in the third, and a final Burlesque which would challenge any player’s technique to the limits – Bruderhans manages the final top F4 with aplomb.

Two works by Jan Klusák follow, both of which are dedicated to Zdeněk Bruderhans.

1-4-3-2-5-6-7-10-9-8-11 is a cleverly constructed 12 tone serial work which explores the entire range of the flute. It has the character of a cantilena, and is not especially difficult to digest as music. The Invenzionetta was written as a fast counterpoint to the earlier, slower piece. Neither of these works sound particularly atonal, but this second piece is also strictly serial. It nonetheless gives an impression of freedom and contrapuntally elegant tonality and is in some ways the star of this collection.

Jan Rychlík’s Quattro Partite take up the problem of writing contrapuntally for an instrument with a single line, with ‘Fughetta a 2 voci’ and ‘Ciaconna’ movements included into the second and fourth Partitas respectively, calling William Alwyn’s ‘Divertimento’ to mind. The flute writing is conventional but highly inventive, with attractive melodies and a great deal of contrast, with titles which refer to dance, vocal and instrumental music of the 12th to 16th centuries, capturing their moods in a fairly light 20th century idiom.

To conclude, this is an interesting programme performed well by Zdeněk Bruderhans. I suspect he may have been a little past his prime when the recording was made, but aside from one or two mildly dodgy moments and that rather pinched sounding tone on occasion there is no need to feel one has to make allowances. Flute players looking for unusual and interesting repertoire will find much to discover here. I for one will be keeping my eyes open for the 20th Century works on this programme – and feel not a little ashamed that I haven’t tried them before.

Dominy Clements


 



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