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Emily Beynon: flute & friends
Hilary TANN (b.1947)
From the Song of Amergin [10:35]
Amy BEACH (1867-1944)
Theme and Variations [20:52]
Sally BEAMISH (b.1956)
Words For My Daughter [7:13]
Thea MUSGRAVE (b.1928)
Impromptu (1967) [5:14]
Trio op 45 (1861-2) [23:28]
Emily Beynon (flute), Henk Rubingh, Marijn Mijnders (violins), Roland Krämer (viola), Daniël Esser (cello), Sepp Grotenhuis (piano), Alexei Ogrintschouk (oboe), Petra van der Heide (harp)
rec. 25-26 April 2007, Singelkirk, Amsterdam  DDD
Experience Classicsonline

Emily Beynon is respected as one of the best living flute players, and for good reason. Her innate musicianship is apparent in everything she plays; even the simplest melodies are transformed into beautifully crafted musical shapes in her hands.
This disc, volume 2 of the First Chairs series of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, comprises flute repertoire by women composers. The opening work, Hilary Tann’s From the Song of Amergin is a beautiful work for flute viola and harp. Like Beynon, Tann is originally from Wales, and demonstrates the influence of her homeland in her writing. Based on a poem which tells of an ancient Celtic myth, the work takes on a story-telling quality, composed in sections which invoke parts of the text, representing the wind and a lake, a tear and the sun, and a hawk above a cliff. Repeated musical ideas represent the text ‘I am’ which begins every line of the chosen extract of the poem and gives an overall unity to the work. The playing from this trio is of the highest quality, and this ten minute work is captivating in its entirety.
Amy Beach is said to have been the first successful American composer of large-scale art music. She was reportedly a child prodigy, and had a very promising early career, until her marriage in 1883 put a stop to her performing career. Her husband allowed her only do to one charity concert a year. Following her husband’s death in 1910, she recommenced her musical activities and spent four years touring Europe and gaining a reputation as a pianist and composer. The style of her music is Romantic, and comparisons are often brought with Brahms. This Theme and Variations is a quintet for flute and strings. Each variation has a character of its own, from energetic, bustling and busy music to lazy waltzes and charmingly poised melodies. There is an evenness of balance between the instruments in the ensemble; the disc is clearly intended as a portrait of Beynon, but I am aware when listening of the musical sensibilities which make her become part of the chamber ensemble rather than a soloist imposed upon it. Her playing takes centre stage when required, but there is no ego here – this recording is very much about the music, and the individual players are all given an opportunity to shine.
Words for my Daughter is a seven minute piece for flute and piano by London-born composer Sally Beamish. After an opening burst of energy, the music transforms into a haunting melody, with dark piano clusters supporting the flute line. Based on Janet Paisley’s poem, the sleeve notes explain that this piece tells the story of the “cycle of life from mother to daughter and on to granddaughter”. It was composed for Emily Beynon and Elizabeth Burley, as a commission from the Young Concert Artists Trust, and was premiered by them in 1996.
Thea Musgrave was born in Scotland and now lives in America. Her Impromptu for flute and oboe, written in 1967, is a powerful work, in which the flute and oboe lines dance around each other in a feisty dialogue which eventually reaches unison.
The disc ends with another Romantic work, this time by Louise Farrenc, who was a pupil of Anton Reicha’s at the Paris Conservatoire. She married the flute player Aristide Farrenc, and together they performed throughout France. Aristide later became a publisher and Louise returned her focus to composition, primarily of chamber music, and had most of her works published by her husband’s company. She was the only woman in the 19th century to become a professor at the Paris Conservatoire, where she taught for thirty years. This trio for flute, cello and piano was the last chamber work she composed before her death in 1875. It demonstrates a mature style with rich harmonies and a strong musical identity. The opening allegro deciso is a strong and powerful movement, with the cello adding strength to the bass line. In contrast, the lyrical andante is simple, making use of undulating quavers and gentle melody lines. The ensuing Scherzo has a renewed energy, and the final presto combines rapidly moving sections with more lyrical lines.
The quality of playing on this disc is exceptional throughout. Each performance is impeccable and musically engaging. The choice of works is fascinating, giving an opportunity for some less well known works to be heard and demonstrating the diversity in styles between the different composers that are represented. Unmissable.
Carla Rees


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