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Jeanne Baxtresser: Chamber Music for flute
François DEVIENNE (1759-1803)
Duo for flute and viola in C minor Op.5 No.3 (1784) [8:20] ¹
Madeleine DRING (1923-1977)
Trio for flute, oboe and piano (1968) [10:11] ²
Philippe GAUBERT (1879-1941)
Three Watercolours for flute, cello and piano [16:02] ³
Samuel BARBER (1910-1981)
Canzone for flute and piano (1958) [4:16] #
Summer Music for wind quintet Op.31 (1956) [11:40] +
Aaron COPLAND (1900-1990)
Duo for flute and piano (1969-70) [14:38] #
Jeanne Baxtresser (flute) with
Cynthia Phelps (viola) ¹
Joseph Robinson (oboe) and Pedja Muzijevic (piano) ²
Alan Stepansky (cello) and Pedja Muzijevic (piano) ³
Israela Margalit (piano) #
Joseph Robinson (oboe). Stanley Drucker (clarinet), Judith LeClair (bassoon) and Philip Myers (French horn) +
rec. Concordia College, Bronxville, New York, June-July 1996 (Devienne, Dring and Gaubert), Recital Hall, State University of New York at Purchase, May 1994 (Barber) and Recital Hall, State University of New York at Purchase, July 1995 (Copland)
CALA CACD 0544 [65:26] 

Copyrighted by Moonlight Productions under exclusive licence to EMI these recordings now appear on Cala over a decade after their original recording. I never caught their original release – I’m assuming they were all released by a branch of the EMI Classics division - though clarification on this point would be welcome.  The Copland duo was certainly released on EMI CDC-55405-2 and the two Barbers on CDC 5-55400-2. I’ve not been able to track the others. 

But Baxtresser will be familiar from her other discs and from her position as former principal flute with the New York Philharmonic. Sharp-eyed readers will note that the chamber forces were all then NYP principals. The recital has a pleasing symmetry to it. The Devienne Duo is full of rhythmic incision and variegated tone, not forgetting a fine balance between flute and viola. Baxtresser and Phelps play up the thematic inter-relatedness of the first movement and the vivacity of the little Rondeau finale very stylishly indeed.

The flautist is clearly a firm proponent of Madeleine Dring. She’s also recorded the Three Piece Suite – droll title, splendidly performed – on Crystal, a disc I’ve reviewed here. The Trio for flute, oboe and piano was composed in 1968 and wears decidedly Francophile garb, with touches of Poulenc and maybe even Ibert in the perky outer movements. But it’s the slow movement that these players most relish, a gorgeous study in sun-dappled lyricism, so beautifully set out for the three instruments to entwine their song. Gaubert’s genuine Frenchness on the other hand is of the Debussyan impressionist kind, fused with a fluid Fauréan lyric. Most attractive is the light gauze of the Iberian finale.

With Barber and Copland we are back on solid ground for these exponents. Barber’s elegy, his Canzone, is a short but warmly moving one – tinted, maybe oddly to my ears, by Duruflé. The Summer Music is longer at twelve minutes and multi-sectional. There’s some really impressive articulation here, as well as fine control over the decay of phrases and a puckish understanding of the wit and energy this work conveys. Copland’s Duo is something of a microcosm of his open air Appalachian style. It wanders harmonically in the “somewhat mournful” central slow movement but that vibrant plein air Copland self returns for the finale.

There’s plenty of variety here and some vivacious performances to boot. With pertinent notes and sympathetic engineering these decade-old performances make an invigorating new mark in the catalogues.

Jonathan Woolf 





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