York Bowen’s Flute Sonata Op.120, composed
in 1946, is one of several pieces in this collection composed for and
first performed by Gareth Morris. It is a mature work characteristic
of the composer’s warmly romantic music. Its three movements are in
turn tuneful, meditative and joyfully dancing. His earlier Miniature
Suite of 1907 is a charming, slightly lighter, neo-classical
Gerhard’s Capriccio for Solo Flute (1949)
was also written for Gareth Morris. Stylistically speaking, it belongs
to the composer’s more traditional period and still incorporates some
folk-like elements in a freely rhapsodic structure of great subtlety.
On the other hand, Maconchy’s Colloquy,
commissioned by Ingrid Culliford and completed in 1979, is a piece from
her late mature years when her music became more compressed, more concise
and, to a certain extent, more austere. It is a substantial piece and
any composer, less modest than Maconchy, would have called it a sonata.
Flight by George Benjamin is one of
his first published scores and was quickly recorded by NIMBUS some years
ago. It is clear that the then nineteen year old composer was already
fully master of his trade. This is a beautifully poised piece in which
Benjamin’s lyricism and instrumental flair are evident from first to
last. Strange though to realize that very few flautists actually picked
up the piece which is still rarely heard today.
William Alwyn was trained as a flautist and, early
in his career, he gave many first performances of contemporary pieces
by Ravel, Roussel and Goossens, to name but a few. Though his first
acknowledged piece was the Divertimento for Solo Flute
(1939), he composed fairly little for his instrument. At the other end
of his life, he composed a Concerto for Flute and Wind Octet.
The Flute Sonata of 1948, also written for Gareth Morris,
is a short work of some substance. Its single movement clearly falls
into three sections. It still has some Neo-classical characteristics
such as the fugue in the Allegro ritmico e feroce. At the time
this recording was made, the sonata had not been heard since the late
1940s. In the meantime, a more recent recording was made by CHANDOS
as part of their Alwyn cycle some years ago (CHANDOS CHAN 9197).
This well-played, well-planned and varied cross-selection
of British flute music is well worth having. Good too that this release,
as well as other LORELT recordings, are available again.