The thing that strikes
you first when you hear Sharon Bezaly
play is the quality of the sound.
It is distinctive, rich and overwhelmingly
beautiful. Add to that a flawless
technique and one would be hard pushed
to find any fault with her playing.
Bezaly has an exclusive deal with
BIS and has already amassed an impressive
discography; this is a welcome addition.
French flute repertoire
has a reputation for being clichéd,
perhaps as a result of the use of
works such as Fauré Fantasie
as set pieces for college entrance
auditions. It is encouraging, then,
to have a fresh perspective on these
works through Bezaly’s playing. While
she avoids the most popular French
works (Fauré, Gaubert, Chaminade),
the disc contains exquisite recordings
of works by Sancan, Widor, Roussel,
Milhaud and Godard, a combination
which makes this recital ideal for
students to study as well as for pure
The performance of
Sancan’s Sonatine, opening
the disc, is truly beautiful. Bezaly
has a natural flair for phrasing and
subtle rubato, and the piano playing
by Love Derwinger is equally impressive.
follows, a four movement work which
I have never particularly enjoyed
as a whole; I have to say, though,
that Bezaly’s rendition won me over,
full of character and sparkle where
required, lyrical and expressive at
other times. The second movement was
as exciting as the third movement
was warm, with Bezaly adapting her
sound to suit the mood of the music.
By contrast, I have
always loved Roussel’s Joueurs
de Flute, ever since I first played
the piece. The interpretation here
is full of colour and light and shade.
Bezaly has a wonderfully subtle approach,
which captures the attention. Her
playing is truly awesome. The second
movement, Tityre is played
with a sense of ease, lightness and
fun; this is a joyful performance.
The melancholy and eastern influences
in Krishna come across with
a deep sense of understanding and
style, while the ebb and flow in the
final movement seems wholly natural
In Deux Poèmes
de Ronsard, also by Roussel, Bezaly
is joined by soprano Barbara Hendricks.
The flute provides a haunting accompaniment
to the vocal line. The pair work well
together, with Hendricks’ rich tone
complementing that of the flute. Written
to celebrate the 400th
anniversary of the birth of the poet
Pierre de Ronsard, this is a wonderful
work which deserves to be heard more.
is next, and once again, the performers
capture the dramatic flair of the
work. There is an undeniable jazz
influence here, although it is incorporated
into the romantic style. Composed
in 1922, this work has three short
movements and strong rhythmic energy.
The piano part is an equal part of
the duo, and the flute often plays
in its low register. This performance
is well proportioned, carefully thought
out and reaches a very high standard.
The closing work
on the disc is the Suite de Trois
Morceaux by Benjamin Godard. The
three movements are characterised
by the performers, with the first
movement achieving a lightness of
touch and a dancing style. The use
of rubato is spot-on: there is neither
too much nor too little, and it always
feels completely natural. The Idylle
provides a further display of excellent
musicianship, and benefits from the
depth of Bezaly’s tone. The final
Valse is charming and bright,
seemingly effortless in its technical
display and full of character.
This is a beautifully
produced performance that makes you
sit up and listen. Sharon Bezaly and
Love Derwinger give faultless renditions
which are consistently brilliant.
I had expected a lot from Bezaly,
but this surpassed my expectations.