A pupil of Jean-Pierre Rampal at the Paris
Conservatoire, Patrick Gallois led the flutes in the Orchestre
National de France before embarking on a solo career. He is
also a conductor and is currently the Music Director of the
Sinfonia Finlandia Jysvaskyla. He has recorded for a variety
of labels, including DG and Ondine; the latter in Rautavaara’s
Flute Concerto, ODE921-2. On , recordings include C.P.E. Bach’s
complete flute concertos and Mozart’s concertos.
The present French recital makes for a fascinating hour’s
listening. The Poulenc is a perfect opener, not only because
of its fame. It is almost certainly the best-known work here.
It introduces Gallois’s slightly breathy tone and Wong’s sensitive
accompanying although she seems placed slightly too far back.
Certainly the wheel of the accompaniment for the first movement
turns, nicely greased.
That the pair work well together is seen in the peaceful
slow movement, where a beautiful dialogue between flute and
piano right-hand treble is very engaging. The finale is cotton-wool
light, imbued with a most appealing, alive rhythmic sense.
Olivier Messiaen’s Le Merle noir makes for quite
a contrast, immediately more austere. This is a gripping performance,
with Gallois and Wong following the composer’s twists and turns
faithfully. The suddenly animated section at 2’13 onwards is
very effective, as are the ‘stellar’ birds (bird-song meeting
music of the stars) at 4’58. With Gallois and Wong, this piece
In direct contrast is the amiable fluff of Pierre Sancan’s
Sonatine. Cowering under the weight of Messiaen, it is
perhaps not ideally placed. There are plenty of programmes when
upon hearing it one might purr with delight. As Keith Anderson’s
booklet notes point out, there is more than a hint of the Debussian
here. But be careful. So harmless is this that if you start
listening while sleepy, you’ll soon be in the Land of Nod. The agile finale is superbly played, by
Wong in particular.
André Jolivet, a Varèse pupil, contributes the Chant
de Linos, a funerary lament. Certainly this piece has more
mettle than the Sancan. There is a sensuality here but indulgence
is kept at bay by the piquancy of the harmonic language, and
later on in the work the rhythms that sit on the cusp of dance
and dynamism - with an acidic undercurrent - make for an exciting
Dutilleux’s Sonatine is a fabulous work. Wong
pedals the opening - hands two octaves apart - perfectly, with
just the right amount of blur without losing definition. Together,
Gallois and Wong set up an atmosphere of delicate warmth. However,
the flute cadenza could be more declamatory and the build-up
to 5’38 is mismanaged: left too late and therefore emerging
without adequate tension. Yet Wong’s ‘toccata’ immediately thereafter
is superb. The major disappointment, however, comes in the way
they ‘prettify’ the music for long stretches so that the piano
‘outburst’ when it comes (around 7’44), a nod to Messiaen if
ever there was one, sounds out of place. Excellent coda, though,
especially from Gallois.
And so to the real meat. Pierre Boulez’s Sonatine
unsurprisingly belies its tame title; it was premièred in Darmstadt. Such an innocuous name, such a difficult piece. Boulez
referred to his Sonatine as ‘organised delirium’. The
flute writing is exploratory in nature and the harmonic language
advanced but very, very beautiful; try the piano chords around
0’37. The piano’s ‘gamelan impression’ (around three minutes
in) is Debussy through a modernist prism. More, there are plenty
of chances to hear Boulez in playful mode; how often does one
Much to enjoy here and very nearly an unqualified recommendation.
This disc is not only for flautists, but should provide much
enjoyment and stimulation for all. Just don’t turn the disc
off after the Dutilleux!