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Philippe GAUBERT (1879-1941) Complete Works for Flute – Volume 3
Deux esquisses [6.38]
Nocturne et allegro scherzando [5.38]
Sicilienne [2.56]
Romance (1905) [7.07]
Baroque and Classical Transcriptions by Philippe Gaubert [31.05]
Romance (1908) Assez lent [3.44]
Fantasie [6.49]
Sur l’eau [3.28]
Ballade [6.17]
Berceuse [3.30]
Fenwick Smith (flute)
Sally Pinkas (piano)
rec. Sonic Temple, Roslindale, Massachusetts, April 2003 and January 2004
NAXOS 8.557307 [77.13]

The Naxos-Gaubert edition has now reached Volume 3 and whatever else may be said about the quality and level of inspiration of the compositions, executant standards are certainly well maintained (see reviews of Volume 1 - CMT & RH - and Volume 2 - GPJ). This is a difficult disc to assess because at its heart lies a long sequence of transcriptions – heard here in their first ever recording – the nourishment of which will depend entirely on one’s largesse toward flute and piano editions of Boccherini’s Minuet, Gluck’s Orfeo (Minuet and Dance inevitably), some Lully and the like. These Baroque and Classical transcriptions were written for publication by Leduc – Gaubert eventually contributed thirty – and whatever opportunities they may have given the amateur flautist then (publication was in 1927) they now seem, once again perhaps invariably, more than somewhat faded in charm.
Elsewhere we find the elite flautist-composer showing distinct Debussyan longings. Soir sur la plaine, the first of Deux esquisses is undated but doffs its impressionist cap to the Faune; the second, an Orientale, makes somewhat insipid moves towards the evocative East. The Nocturne et allegro scherzando is one of those familiarly bipartite conservatoire test pieces – a slow introduction testing legato and colour followed by an allegro of sharp corners and some difficulty. His Sicilienne owes a debt to Fauré but the 1905 Romance, whilst lyrically attractive, is overstretched.
The impressionist reappears strongly in the 1908 Romance but there’s something altogether stronger and more personal in the Fantaisie which sports a fine cadenza and a slightly backward looking late nineteenth century Test Piece ethos. Finally there’s an affectionate Lullaby to provide easeful leave taking.
Quite a deal of this is editorial bread and butter work – the Transcriptions amount to a good half an hour’s worth – but there’s enough stylistic density to keep routine at bay. But it’s mainly for flautists, completists and Gaubertists, or combinations thereof.
Jonathan Woolf


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