Carlo Jans has been an inspiring guide to Feld’s music for flute,
and this disc inaugurates a series of three CDs devoted to the
composer’s chamber music for that instrument. My last encounter
with the Feld-Jans combination was in the shape of an Arco Diva
of music by Feld, Kalabis and Lukáš, and a marvellously invigorating
affair it was.
Feld died in 2007 but he knew of the plans to make this series
of recordings, and in fact his 2006 ‘foreword’ is reprinted in
the booklet. It reads as if he might have heard the recordings,
which suggests that they were made in 2006 or earlier, but there
are no recording dates noted in the documentation, only locations.
What matters most is the music. This is a disc that offers up
six works, written between 1963 and 2001. His customary facility
and his wit are in evidence throughout. The Quintetto capriccioso
was written during 1994-95 for Susan Milan, another exploratory
and hugely effective proponent of contemporary music for the flute.
It opens in an intensely crepuscular way but the giocoso
feel is soon established and there are rippling, firefly moments
aplenty, with the flute agile, the strings propulsive and the
harp perfectly integrated into the soundworld. The Scherzino is
everything its name promises: brilliantly fast and exciting, before
slowing to a troubadour-like central panel, folksong escaping
over tabor taps. We’re transported to the Bohemian Renaissance.
The fluid precision of Feld’s writing is confirmed by the slow
movement, a touchingly refined aria, before the finale banishes
care, ultimately alluding to the folksong-and-tabor of the Aria
in a puckish close.
The Divertimento for flute and guitar is imbued with delightful,
often lazily strung impressionistic lines, though once again Feld
proves a champion of scherzi in his rhythmically invigorating
writing. Erinnerung an Mozart für Zauberflöte Solo
written in 2001 and is a brief solo for the flute, elaborating
on the theme and inviting a modicum of over-blowing to good effect.
The Cinq inventions
are stylish products of the mid-1970s.
Brief they may be but arid – never. Instead these studies for
two flutes allow the instrumentalists great opportunities for
succinct characterisation. And especially in the Canon [No.3,
track 12] there are chances for real wit. Sonatine américaine
is for flute and piano. Sparkling dialogue animates it, though
the reflective slow movement grants depth to Feld’s French-leaning
sound palette. It sounds most American in the Scherzino where
there’s a feel of syncopation and jazzy engagement. Finally there’s
the earliest work here, the Trio of 1963. This was his mid, or
second period, and the time of his experiments with dodecaphonic
techniques. The writing though busy is malleable and achieves
a kernel of expressive depth in the melancholic slow movement.
The finale is lissom, Francophile, bracing and engaging. There’s
nothing at all off-putting about this at all.
With performances cut from the topmost cloth, and recording quality
to match - despite the trio of recording locations - this new
series is inaugurated in great style. Feld deserves nothing less.