Music in Motion
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953) Sonata No 2 op.94 (1942-1944) [22:37]; Rob DU BOIS (b.1934) Bewingingen (Movements) (1961) [7:04]; Otar TAKTAKISHVILI (1924-1989) Sonata (1968) [16:57]; Robert ZUIDAM (b.1964) Four Movements (2007) [9:44]; Sofia GUBAIDULINA (b.1931) Sounds of the Forest (1978) [3:03], Allegro Rustico (1963/1993) [5:19]; Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943) Vocalise, op. 34. No. 14 (1912) [4:25]
Abbie de Quant (flute); Elizabeth van Malde (piano)
rec. 22-25 September 2008. DDD

This flute recital disc combines repertoire from Russia, Georgia and the Netherlands. It includes some standard repertoire pieces, such as the Sonatas by Prokofiev and Taktakishvili, with some less well known twentieth and twenty-first century works.

Prokofievís Sonata also exists in a version for violin but was originally composed for Jean-Pierre Rampal in the mid-1940s. This recording is expressive, with the first movement played in a lyrical manner, and the performance is overall somewhat less aggressive that it is often heard. Dutch flute player Abbie de Quant has a sound which is bright and smooth, and well balanced by Elizabeth van Malde on piano. The fast-paced second movement is light and sparkling and full of character, always in control but retaining a sense of drama. This duo does not wallow in the slow movement, taking a fluid tempo and allowing the simplicity of Prokofievís expressive melodic lines to come through effectively. The fiery final movement brings out contrasting moods well, from the expressive moments to the wonderfully grotesque dances and crashingly dramatic end. This is an exhilarating performance, which gives a strong sense of these performersí identities combined with a faithfulness to the score.

Rob Du Boisís Bewingingen reminded me in style of Boulezís Sonatine, and uses serial techniques in six short fragments. A sense of conversation between flute and piano emerges and there is a sense of drama and contrast in the music. The opening features bright bursts of sound, and the music gradually calms to include some moments of still contemplation. There is a delicacy in the playing here, and the silences are as important as the sounds themselves.

The Sonata by Georgian composer Otar Taktakishvili is lyrical, harmonically uncomplicated and based on folk themes. Once again, de Quant and van Malde bring out the lightness of the style, and the first movement is beautifully presented. The slow movement has moments of breathtaking expression, with some well controlled quiet playing from both these musicians. The final movement is bright with folk rhythms giving something of a celebratory feel.

Four Movements by Robert Zuidam were composed in 2007 and commissioned by the duo that plays it here. Each of the movements shows a different aspect of the duo, beginning with expressive melodic lines and moving to more fluid, faster music in the second movement. In the third movement, we hear the two instruments off-set against each other, with a close reflection of the fluteís sound in the piano. The final movement has the mood of a fantasy, with florid flute lines decorating the pianoís harmony.

Two pieces by Sofia Gubaildulina are heard here; Sounds of the Forest includes representation of birdsong in an atmospheric short work. The Allegro Rustico uses folk-based material and has a dark, marching feel. Both works are played here with a sense of imagination and poise. The disc ends with a beautiful rendition of Rachmaninovís Vocalise, which seems to sum up the music-making of this duo; one has a sense with their playing that the expression of the music is of paramount importance, and this uncomplicated performance gets straight to the emotional essence of the composerís writing.

This is a versatile duo who works well together to create a unified and well balanced sound. They are convincing with contemporary repertoire and perform standard works with a sense of musicianship and expression.

Carla Rees