Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Le Flûtiste Et Son Siècle
Joseph JONGEN (1873 – 1953)

Danse lente Op.56 (1917)
Eugene GOOSSENS (1893 – 1962)

Three Pictures Op.55 (1935)
Léon STEKKE (1904 – 1970)

Nocturne Op.5
Scherzo capriccioso Op.19
Marcel POOT (1901 – 1988)

Légende (1959)
Jacques LEDUC (born 1932)

Flute Sonata Op.21 (1966)
HAO-FU Zhang (born 1952)

Théâtre pour deux (1996)
Denis-Pierre Gustin (flute); Carmen-Elena Rotaru (piano)
Recorded: Steurbaut Sound Recording Centre, Gent, 2000 and 2001
CYPRÈS CYP 4615 [75:18]


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This generously filled collection of 20th Century music for flute is quite remarkable, in that it does not include any of the now traditional warhorses such as Poulenc’s sonata or Roussel’s Joueurs de flûte but rather focuses on Belgian composers. For that only, it would be worth having though it has many other riches to offer.

Jongen’s Danse lente Op.56 for flute and piano or harp is a delightful, nostalgic miniature composed in the early years of World War I when the composer lived in England. Stekke’s short pieces as well as Poot’s Legend were composed as test pieces; but both were fine composers in their own way and always managed to write music that puts demands on the players as well as delights the listener. Stekke is a neglected composer though his beautiful Nocturne Op.5 and his delightful Scherzo capriccioso Op.19 have always been much favoured by professional as well as budding flautists. This recording marks the welcome return of these pieces to the catalogue. I often compare the late Marcel Poot to Gordon Jacob, in that he could write attractively and expertly for whatever medium. Moreover, while being fairly traditional, his music is quite personal and instantly recognisable. His Legend for flute and piano is a good example of his musicmaking. Jacques Leduc is a highly respected composer who patiently and painstakingly composed a sizeable body of substantial works, all characterised by his superb craftsmanship and elegant Neo-classicism. His substantial Flute Sonata Op.21 of 1966 is no exception; and is the major work in this fine recital. Its three movements follow the traditional pattern, although Leduc’s undogmatic approach always has surprises in stock. His music, traditional as it may be, has a remarkable freshness of invention expressed in subtle refined harmonies. It is not without a touch of humour as in the spirited third movement of this sonata. If you know and love, say, Lennox Berkeley’s music, then you need not hesitate: Leduc’s music is also for you.

One rather tends to forget that Eugene Goossens had his roots in Brugge, and actually the first of his Three Pictures Op.55 is inspired by reminiscences of his early years there. The second picture is based on a well-known folk song from the Cotswolds whereas the third movement is a fanciful Nocturne inspired by Montmartre. This lovely work, still too rarely heard, also exists in a version for flute, strings and percussion which I have never heard, though I think (but am not sure) that it has been recorded. Anyway, the flute-and-piano version is thoroughly effective and quite enjoyable.

Chinese-born Hao-Fu Zhang studied at the Ecole Normale in Paris and at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels. His composition teachers include Edison Denisov, Jacqueline Fontyn, Yoshihisa Taïra and Jacques Leduc. His Théâtre pour deux was composed on commission from the Ars Musica festival in Brussels. As that of some of his contemporaries (Chen Yi, Zhou Long, Qigang Chen and Bright Sheng), his music draws on his musical roots and attempts a reconciliation between Eastern and Western musical traditions while avoiding superficial pictorialism. Théâtre pour deux consists of two parts of fairly equal length but of highly contrasted character. Libero is improvisatory in character whereas Moderato e misterioso is in the form of a theme and variations. This piece, which was new to me, is a quite attractive work of great refinement and beauty. A most welcome novelty, as far as I am concerned, that should be heard more often.

This attractive selection of unfamiliar works for flute and piano, superbly played throughout and warmly recorded, is one of the most enjoyable discs I have heard recently. Recommended, were it only for pleasure’s sake.

Hubert Culot

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