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York BOWEN (1884 – 1961)
Sonata for Flute and Piano Op.120 (1946)
Lennox BERKELEY (1903 – 1990)

Sonatina for Flute and Piano Op.13 (1939)
Malcolm ARNOLD (born 1921)

Sonata for Flute and Piano Op.121 (1977)
Nicholas MAW (born 1935)

Sonatina for Flute and Piano (1957)
Iain HAMILTON (1922 – 2000)

Spring Days (1996)
David MATTHEWS (born 1943)

Duet Variations Op.30 (1982)
Jeffrey Khaner (flute); Charles Abramovic (piano)
Recorded: Curtis Hall, Philadelphia, December 2001
AVIE AV0016 [64:45]

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Let it be said straightaway: this is not yet another recital of British flute music, for this well-planned selection is a most welcome mix of fairly familiar and unfamiliar British works for flute.

Though much of Bowen’s warmly lyrical, superbly crafted music is still too rarely heard or recorded, the fine Flute Sonata Op.120 – a comparatively late work – has been regularly taken-up and recorded by flautists. Quite deservedly so, for it is one of Bowen’s most endearing and most attractive chamber works.

At the other end of the scale, Arnold’s large-scale Flute Sonata Op.121, another late work of his written at about the time of the often tragic, violent and deeply personal Seventh Symphony, is one of his most serious and sombre works. It is a deeply personal statement written during the most perturbed period of Arnold’s life. Its troubled mood surely reflects these difficult years. It is, without doubt, a major work that has still to be given its due.

Though it has already been recorded before, Berkeley’s lovely Flute Sonatina Op.13 is a delightful work, full of Gallic charm and never outstaying its welcome. Incidentally, it was written for flute or recorder, but – to the best of my knowledge – it has never been recorded in the version for recorder and piano.

Nicholas Maw’s early Flute Sonatina is often mentioned but has nevertheless remained unheard for many long years. Its twelve-tone idiom, often commented upon, does not really sound as such. Maw was a Berkeley pupil at the R.A.M., and the clarity and economy of the writing has certainly been learned from Berkeley. In its short span, it is a superbly crafted, tightly argued and very attractive piece of music of great charm.

Hamilton’s Spring Days is a lovely late work, a delightful set of colourful miniatures. No great masterpiece, maybe, but what a wonderful encore!

David Matthews is a fastidious craftsman and a most distinguished composer with a sizeable body of substantial orchestral and chamber works to his credit. A classicist at heart, he succeeds in blending traditional formal thinking with 20th Century freely tonal writing. His Duet Variations Op.30 is an excellent example of his serious and sincere music making, and a welcome addition to the repertoire which will hopefully soon be taken-up by flautists.

A cleverly planned selection of worthwhile works, immaculate and almost effortless playing, fine recording and production. This release is enthusiastically recommended.

Hubert Culot


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