recorded and played with eloquence; these are two of the
more salient features of a disc that democratically hands
us two sonatas and two solo outings for Piccinini and Haefliger.
Prokofiev is expected fare for a flautist. Whilst fiddle-fanciers
know the D major sonata from the Oistrakh-inspiring Op.94a
in its reclothing as a violin sonata, the flute was the original
instrument. There is no shortage of recommendable versions
and this proves another. Piccinini brings out the cool Gallic
refinement of the sonata, where lyricism and more brittle
flights are held in fine balance. Her articulation needs
to be precise and her breath control optimum in the second
movement and she proves equal to all such challenges. More
than these questions however her tone colours are subtly
deployed and Haefliger proves an adept, considerate and when
necessary assertive partner – hear his crisply turned provocations
in the finale. Overall this is a refined, languid but athletic
The Franck sonata is heard
in the flautist’s own transcription. We’re very used to the
cello arrangement but the flute certainly captures a great
deal of the violin’s more aerial registration. What it can’t
do, quite clearly, is to dig into the string – or emulate
that resinous power – especially in the second movement.
Here there is a character change and the sonata becomes a
more elfin and less combative work. Still there is much to
enjoy in this subtle realignment of character, tone and timbre.
Trills are pellucid and the questioning rhetoric of the third
movement is auspiciously conveyed. Sometimes the piano, for
all Haefliger and the studio engineer’s skill, cannot help
but rather overbalance the flute.
contributes a finely constructed Liebestod from Tristan
and Isolde and Piccinini an evocative and successful Syrinx.
Given the nature of the programme I should add that the former
seems rather anomalous in the context of a flute and piano
notes and booklet presentation are attractively done – typography
and graphics are both thoughtful and pleasurable. The recording
is well done and captures sonority with clarity and yet warmth.
And the playing as such is first class. The Franck is a novelty,
the Prokofiev a standard so it’s very much a question of
whether the programme has sufficient balance to appeal.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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