Sharon Bezaly, so the
sleeve-note says, is the world’s only
full-time international flute soloist.
There is no doubt that she is a remarkable
musician with a circular breathing technique
that enables her to produce a thoroughly
seamless sound of a staggering nature.
She is under exclusive contract to BIS
records and to date has produced no
less than 17(!) albums for them. I don’t
know what the majority of the others
are but this disc is volume 3 of a project
entitled "from A-Z" (shAron
beZaly – get it?). If you’re wondering
what that might really mean you will
notice that, apart from Cecile Chaminade,
all the pieces are by composers whose
surnames begin with D – now do you see!
After my first listen to this disc I
thought that I’d report to you that
almost 80 minutes of solo flute music
is too much for anyone but the truly
obsessive flute lover. However after
subsequent hearings I’ve decided that
I was wrong, though how many such volumes
I could listen to I don’t know. However
I’d better reserve my judgement just
The pieces are so well
chosen for their demonstration of the
way in which the flute can portray so
many moods that I found it all a truly
inspiring experience. The first piece
by Brett Dean, an Australian
composer, unknown to me, entitled "Demons"
was of particular interest as it uses
the flute in quite a different way than
most of us are used to. Far from the
ethereal sounds usually associated with
the flute it involves an opening punctuated
with a series of high Ds (what else?)
and much use of the production of more
than one note at a time where you can
hear the player’s voice coming through.
I’m sure it will become a piece that
flute players will want to attempt as
it certainly amply shows the multi-faceted
nature of the instrument. I should imagine
it is devilishly difficult to play –
"Demons" is an apt title!
It was interesting to hear a piece written
by Dohnanyi, whose music we don’t
hear enough of, and his "Passacaglia"
is a lovely work that was written the
year before he died in 1960. Usually
Hungarians give away their nationality
in their music but not so here where
I could detect no national traits just
a beautifully constructed piece giving
the flautist much to do and the listener
great pleasure. Carl-Axel Dominique’s
"Songlines" takes its title
from Bruce Chatwin’s book of the same
name and is linked to its concept that
music "represents a sort of musical
map of reality for the Aboriginal people
of Australia" (liner notes). Once
again it is a fascinating work that
shows the flute in many of its moods.
With the opening movement depicting
the world’s first daybreak, the second
a blackbird and the final one a raga,
one is not surprised to learn that he
studied with Messiaen and is a highly
acclaimed interpreter of that composer’s
"Catalogue d’oiseaux". The
disc’s odd one out in alphabetical terms
is Chaminade’s "Pièce
romantique" but it is a celebration
of the gorgeous sounds the flute can
make - all within the space of two minutes.
compostion "Zodiac" comprising
fourteen sections, the twelve signs
with prologue and epilogue, is interesting.
I wonder how many would recognise themselves
in the depiction in music of their own
star sign; I found mine (Aries) far
too energetic, though I do border on
Taurus. However, the composer said he
was not trying to depict man’s characteristics
as attributed to the star signs but
"an image of a cosmic wheel"
as "a symbol of outer space"
and man himself in a "circle of
constant rotation". There are three
final pieces. The first is by Jean
Donjon, himself a flute virtuoso
whose "Le chant de vent" from
eight chamber studies for solo flute,
reminds us of the flute’s ability to
represent wind so perfectly. François
Devienne’s "Sonata No.4 in
G Major" takes us back to the wonderfully
mellifluous flute writing of the 18th
century. Finally to Debussy’s
"Syrinx", that magnificent
little piece full of sensuous promise
that I’ve never heard played so convincingly.
All in all an album
to cherish though how many more she
can produce to get to Z I can’t imagine.
see also Volume