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Marina Piccinini - works for flute and piano

Flute Sonata in D major Op.94 (1943) [23:51]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Syrinx (1913) [3:17]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde (1859) (arr. Liszt) [8:39]
Cesar FRANCK (1822-1890)
Violin Sonata in A major (1886) (arr. for flute M. Piccinini) [37:55]
Marina Piccinini (flute)
Andreas Haefliger (piano)
rec. Reistadel-Neumarkt/Oberpfalz November 2004 and May 2005
AVIE AV2087 [64:08]

Splendidly recorded and played with eloquence; these are two of the more salient features of a disc that democratically hands us two sonatas and two solo outings for Piccinini and Haefliger.
The Prokofiev is expected fare for a flautist. Whilst fiddle-fanciers know the D major sonata from the Oistrakh-inspiring Op.94a in its reclothing as a violin sonata, the flute was the original instrument. There is no shortage of recommendable versions and this proves another. Piccinini brings out the cool Gallic refinement of the sonata, where lyricism and more brittle flights are held in fine balance. Her articulation needs to be precise and her breath control optimum in the second movement and she proves equal to all such challenges. More than these questions however her tone colours are subtly deployed and Haefliger proves an adept, considerate and when necessary assertive partner – hear his crisply turned provocations in the finale. Overall this is a refined, languid but athletic traversal.
The Franck sonata is heard in the flautist’s own transcription. We’re very used to the cello arrangement but the flute certainly captures a great deal of the violin’s more aerial registration. What it can’t do, quite clearly, is to dig into the string – or emulate that resinous power – especially in the second movement. Here there is a character change and the sonata becomes a more elfin and less combative work. Still there is much to enjoy in this subtle realignment of character, tone and timbre. Trills are pellucid and the questioning rhetoric of the third movement is auspiciously conveyed. Sometimes the piano, for all Haefliger and the studio engineer’s skill, cannot help but rather overbalance the flute.
He contributes a finely constructed Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde and Piccinini an evocative and successful Syrinx. Given the nature of the programme I should add that the former seems rather anomalous in the context of a flute and piano recital.
The notes and booklet presentation are attractively done – typography and graphics are both thoughtful and pleasurable. The recording is well done and captures sonority with clarity and yet warmth. And the playing as such is first class. The Franck is a novelty, the Prokofiev a standard so it’s very much a question of whether the programme has sufficient balance to appeal.
Jonathan Woolf




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