> Barber, Khachaturian Flute concertos RRC1100[CF]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Violin concertos in transcriptions for the flute
Samuel BARBER (1910-1981)
Flute Concerto (1940)

Allegro; Andante; Presto in moto perpetuo
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Flute Concerto (1940)

Allegro con fermezza; Andante sostenuto; Allegro vivace
Jennifer Stinton (flute)
Philharmonia Orchestra/Steuart Bedford
Recorded in Abbey Road, Studio 1, November 1991
REGIS RRC1100 [58.11]

For around £6 from your dealer

An interesting CD this because neither work was written for the flute; they are both ex-violin concertos dating from 1940. Barber’s was transcribed by the soloist here, Jennifer Stinton, with permission from the Barber estate. Of the two works this perhaps underscores the loss of the violin sound in a work which, similarly to the Korngold violin concerto, is very much attuned to and dependent on its sounds and colours. On the other hand the Khachaturian concerto, which Jean-Pierre Rampal transcribed under the scrutiny of the composer, works exceptionally well. Barber’s work has a strange history. The first two movements were liked by the player who was to play its first performance, Iso Briselli. However he was not satisfied with the finale and told Barber as much, so the collaboration faltered and eventually ceased. Various myths have blurred the facts (for example that Briselli found the finale too difficult to play), but the truth has been well and truly established and set out in admirable detail by Marc Mostovoy on www.isobriselli.com (to which the reader is referred), and in Barbara Heyman's definitive biography Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music; (OUP, New York 1992). It was Albert Spalding who first played the complete work on 7 February 1941 with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Ormandy.

Khachaturianís is an opulently exotic work until the zipping finale, and is Russian to the core in terms of its orchestration. It is also a highly Romantic work (so is Barberís but with plenty of other flavours such as jazz), which David Oistrakh played for the first time on 16 November 1940 as part of the Second Festival of Soviet Music in Moscow. Thereís a lot of material which pervades the whole work from the outset, both its rhythms and melodic shapes, while one is never far from the Orient in its tonal colours and meandering melodic outlines.

Jennifer Stinton is a fine flautist and the Barber deserves a public outing (apparently this recording predates any such event though things may have changed during the past ten years since it was made) and she goes fearlessly for the technical hurdles just like any violinist would. Obviously she cannot double stop and both ends of the instrumentís range are curtailed, but she provides skilful alternatives on the whole. Rampal provided his own cadenza for the Khachaturian and the composer professed himself highly satisfied. In the case of the Barber, if you havenít got it already, get the violin concerto in its original form and add this highly interesting alternative to it.

Christopher Fifield

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