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CD: Crotchet
Download: Classicsonline

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Sonata No 6 in E major, BWV 1035 [10:35]
Camille SAINT-SAENS (1835-1921)
Romance in D flat major, op. 37 [5:58]
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Sonata for Flute and Piano [12:26]
Francois BORNE (1840-1920?)
Fantaisie Brillante sur Carmen [12:25]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Sonata for Flute and Piano, op.94 [23:47]
Odinn Baldvinsson (flute); Patricia Romero (piano)
rec. 25-26 October 2007, St Mark’s Church, Purley, London. DDD
DIVINE ART DDV24137 [65:04]

Experience Classicsonline

This disc contains a flute recital programme. Beginning with Bach’s E major Sonata, the disc takes us through repertoire by Saint-Saens, Poulenc, Borne and Prokofiev. It is the debut recording from the duo of Odinn Baldvinsson and Patricia Romero, which was formed in 2007.

The Bach feels slightly hurried, even in the expressive slow movement, and I would have liked a greater sense of phrasing and expression. Baldvinsson is a competent player with good intonation and finger control, but this interpretation lacks the subtleties of inflection that can be found in this music. The dynamic range also holds little variety, with repeats all played at identical volumes and with the same solid sound.

The Romance by Saint-Saens is played with a warm and even sound and once again is technically well under control, but I craved more of a sense of fantasy in the cadenza passages. Poulenc’s Sonata worked slightly better at the opening, but the relentless rigidity of both the tone and vibrato get in the way of the expression. In this repertoire, some gentle, unindulgent rubato can add some magic. Having said that, the first movement was played with impressive technical agility and an enjoyable strength of tone at the places where it was called for. The second movement has some beautifully lyrical melodic lines, and I would have enjoyed more sense of direction in the phrases. Changes in the speed of vibrato would also have been welcomed, and the piano part seemed almost plodding at times. A few cracks emerged in the technique in the more challenging final movement, and I felt some fire and drama would have brought the movement to life more.

Francois Borne’s Carmen Fantasie is an entertaining work which takes its thematic material from Bizet’s opera. Demanding both musically and technically, this work requires the performers to exude panache and virtuosity. Here, Baldvinsson’s all-pervasive vibrato in the low register melodies became irritating, and the piece also suffered technically in some of the faster passages. The famous Habanera is surprisingly legato with a distinctly melancholy feel, and the ensuing variations are too slow and laboured to be able to sparkle.

The disc ends with Prokofiev’s Sonata, often cited as a one of the favourites of early twentieth century flute repertoire. The first movement is possibly one of the more successful interpretations of the disc, with the strength of tone suiting the style of the music well. The second movement has a tendency to hurry and to lose clarity. The final two movements are reasonably successful in their interpretations, and come across confidently, although greater variety would again have been welcomed.

Baldvinsson is clearly a competent flute player with good technical control of his instrument and the ability to play with a rich sound. The technical elements of a good player are there, but I would have liked a much greater range of expression in order to make the music emotionally moving. Romero is a reliable duo partner, who plays accurately and with rhythmic precision.

This is an enjoyable recital programme of standard works, but all of these pieces have been recorded numerous times before by superior performers, whose interpretations I prefer.

Carla Rees 



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