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Flute Concertos
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-78)

Flute concerto (violin concerto of 1940 transcribed by Jean-Pierre Rampal in 1968)
Jacques IBERT (1890-1962)

Pièce pour flute seule (Piece for solo flute) (1936)
Flute concerto (1936)
Emmanuel Pahud (flute)
Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich/David Zinman
Recorded October 2002 at Grosser Saal, Tonhalle, Zurich, Switzerland. DDD
EMI CLASSICS 5 57563 2 [63:56]

Following quickly on the heels of his wonderful recording of Telemannís flute concertos on EMI Classics 5 57397 2, exciting young flautist Emmanuel Pahud now turns his attention from late baroque to accessible twentieth century repertoire.

Armenian-born composer Aram Khachaturian is renowned for composing in bright colours with bold and frequently memorable melodies. Infused with folk music the scores often contain picturesque and exotic textures. The three movement Flute concerto is a transcription of Khachaturianís violin concerto of 1940 made by the eminent flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal. Although worthwhile in extending the range of the limited flute repertoire I feel the transcription never really approaches the romantic effectiveness and singing quality of the original violin version. The soloist Emmanuel Pahud plays this approachable and felicitous work with a real passion and vigorously exploits the virtuoso passages although it would have been preferable for maestro Zinman to have toned-down the composerís often garish orchestration. The sound quality of the work is very bright and frustratingly blurs at the edges in the forte orchestral passages.

Jacques Ibertís Flute concerto from 1936, along with the Divertissement for chamber orchestra (1930) are composerís most popular works. Full of charm and strongly lyrical the three movement concerto typifies Ibertís style. It is often stated that the Parisianís music is shallow in terms of substance however I feel that the Flute concerto manages to hold-up against the charge if given a fine performance. Thankfully Pahud, aided by the Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich, is in excellent form and delivers a spirited reading, enabling the music to sparkle. I particularly enjoyed the soloistís sensitive handling of the haunting melody of the poetic second movement Andante. In this score the sonics tend to make the fluteís top-register sound shrill which detracted somewhat from the pleasure of the performance.

Ibertís Pièce pour flute seule (Piece for solo flute) composed in 1936 is an accessible and attractive work frequently used in flute examinations and as a recital encore piece. Pahud makes light-work of the virtuoso demands of the rustic-like score although the sound engineers have caught rather too much of the soloistís breathing technique for my liking.

The talented Emmanuel Pahud has the full measure of these most approachable and rather lightweight scores. Pahud delivers fine performances all round but the listening experience is reduced by the somewhat varying and problematic sound quality.

Michael Cookson

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