The Doppler brothers’ flute music has a reputation for being fun
to play, virtuoso and light-hearted. There are numerous stories
flying around about the brothers, the most famous of which is
that they toured Europe playing flute duets with one player using
a left-handed flute which allowed them to produce a mirror image
of each other. As far as I am aware, there is no evidence to support
this claim, and it may well be an urban myth, but it makes a good
story. This is ostensibly salon music, and frequently makes use
of famous themes of the day. There is a strong element of fun,
and the music is enjoyable to listen to and to play.
This disc comprises transcriptions of many of the
well-known two flute and piano works for orchestra, alongside
the Concerto for two flutes in D minor. The piano writing
lends itself well to orchestration and, played with orchestra,
these works are given new expressive means.
The Rigoletto Fantaisie utilizes the main
themes from the opera in a charming and amusing way. The two
flute parts, in this arrangement by Risto Keinänen, are evenly
matched, and the orchestral arrangement is light and well
The atmospheric opening to the Hungarian Pastoral
Fantasy is beautifully played, with Gallois giving a splendid
performance. The pacing is just right, with a wonderful sense
of flow and space. The orchestration is cleverly put together,
and mimics an eastern European orchestral sound. Gallois includes
some subtle and well-placed pitch bends. The faster moving
sections are fluent and engaging, with excellent technical
The Andante and Rondo is perhaps one of
the most frequently played of the Doppler works, with the lyrical
Andante providing an opportunity for each of the flute
players to show their expressive abilities, and the Rondo demonstrating
technical prowess. The two flutes here are evenly matched in their
playing; one could almost imagine that they were multi-tracked.
They capture the essence of Doppler’s style extremely well; despite
the light-hearted nature of the music, they approach it with artistry
and musicality, demanding as high standards in this repertoire
as in something more serious. Only in this way can the true nature
of this music come across as it does here. The orchestral playing
is similarly well controlled and provides an excellent accompaniment.
Duettino sur des motifs Américains is one of my
favourite tracks on the disc. Franz Doppler has captured the American
style with panache, and it sounds all the better here with another
well thought out orchestration by Risto Keinänen. The Star-Spangled
Banner is a particularly effective moment, and one could almost
imagine this arrangement being used to accompany TV footage for
a presidential campaign. Pure brilliance. I couldn’t help but
bop along to Yankee Doodle - cheesy it may be, but it is
also hugely entertaining, and extremely well played.
The Valse di Bravura has an entirely different
feel, showing the range of scope within Doppler’s music. The
opening is rather more serious, with rich tone from both of
the flute players and a strong sense of pulse. The mood changes,
giving way to a Viennese-style waltz. This is a sincere work,
which maintains its weightiness throughout, despite virtuoso
displays from the flutes and a particularly impressive cadenza.
The playing is impressive from all performers.
The Concerto is a further exploration into
Franz Doppler’s serious side. The frivolity of the Fantaisie
is replaced with a Romantic sentiment akin to Mendelssohn
or Weber. The orchestral introduction is rich and full-bodied,
and although one can still tell from the flute writing that
Doppler is the composer, it is a world apart from the salon
works that are so well-known by flute players the world over.
As one would expect, the virtuoso displays are still very
much in evidence, with some wonderfully executed similar motion
chromatic scales heard in the two flutes. The playing in the
Andante is rich, warm and expressive, with both flute
players demonstrating a range of tone colours and good sense
of phrasing. The waltz-like movement flows along beautifully,
leading to a charismatic finale. Gallois and Seo once again
give an inspirational performance throughout but especially
in the extended cadenza; their ensemble playing is truly spectacular.
Thoroughly enjoyable, with excellent playing throughout.