François DEVIENNE (1759-1803)
Six Duos Concertants for Flute and Viola Op. 5: No. 1 [11:51]; No. 2 [14:25]; No. 3 [10:43]; No. 4 [11:02]; No. 5 [10:35]; No. 6 [13:47]
Ewa Murawska (flute), Marcin Murawski (viola)
rec. 21-22 November 2008, Chamber Hall, POSM II st. im. M Karlowicza in Poznán, Poland, DDD
ACTE PREALABLE APO222 [69:04]
Devienne was a French bassoonist and flute-player, as well as a notable composer. He wrote mostly for his own instruments, but also composed operas. He met Mozart on several occasions, and the influence is clearly noticeable in the compositional style.
Devienne’s set of six duos for flute and viola each comprise two movements, which broadly follow a fast-slow-fast pattern, with slow contrasting sections incorporated within the two movement form. The pieces were first published in 1780 and are one of only a small number of works written for this combination of instruments.
The microphones seem to be placed quite close to the instruments, and the viola is sometimes heavier in the balance than the flute. The ensemble playing is good overall, with some enjoyable interplay between the parts. Devienne’s writing allows each instrument to have an equal role, which was unusual at the time, when one instrument would usually take on a solo role with the other part accompanying. The melodic lines are elegant, and the virtuoso moments add some wonderful energy to the music. I’d like to hear more contrast of dynamic at times; the mic placement makes the instruments feel quite intense. Perhaps also there should be more variety in tone colour, especially in the viola. However, the music is full of light and shade, and each of the duos takes on its own character.
The third duo is a particular favourite of mine, with a lovely sense of dialogue and some enjoyable minor key colours. The second movement allows moments of virtuosity for both instruments, and the contrast in tone between the flute and viola gives a sense of breadth to the ensemble sound. The fourth duo contrasts well, with its expressive slow opening, played here with warmth and well-rounded phrasing. The sixth duo opens with an unusually open texture, with double-stopping on the viola, before settling into a melody and accompaniment figure.
The works are well structured, with a sense of consistency of style throughout. The variations and minor key sections are inventive and the major key melodies are lyrical and bright. Murawska and Murawski perform with well considered phrasing and a sense of classical style.
Elegance and wonderful energy.