Pipe Dreams
José SEREBRIER (b.1938) Flute Concerto with Tango (2008) [22:12]
Adina IZARRA (b.1959) Pitangus Sulphuratus (1987, rev.2007) [15:05]
Carl VINE (b.1954) Pipe Dreams (2003) [14:53]
Alberto GINASTERA (1916-1983) Impresiones de la Puna (1934) [6:57]
Sharon Bezaly (flute)
Australian Chamber Orchestra/Richard Tognetti (violin).
rec. Eugene Goossens Hall, ABC Centre, Sydney, Australia, October 2009
BIS-CD-1789 [60:23]
Discovering compositions that are new to you is one of the real joys of reviewing. This disc fits into that bracket absolutely as I hadn’t heard any of these before. That is certainly no surprise when it comes to the first work on the disc, José Serebrier’s Flute Concerto with Tango from 2008. It was only given its US première in September 2012 with its dedicatee Sharon Bezaly as soloist and the composer conducting. Uruguayan Serebrier is best known as a conductor of world renown, making his conducting debut aged 11! As composer his first symphony was given its première by Leopold Stokowski, no less, when Serebrier was only 17. Serebrier has received 37 nominations for Grammy Awards and won 8. As conductor Hi-Fi News described Serebrier's debut recording of the Ives 4th Symphony as “one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of the Gramophone". The Flute Concerto is a richly-layered work in which the soloist is challenged right from the word go. Bezaly’s amazing circular breathing technique is tested to the limit. The long singing lines that occur in the third movement, for example, require abilities that almost defy belief but, unsurprisingly for anyone who has heard her playing before she comes through with flying colours. The work is full of flute “pyrotechnics” but also many lyrical passages showing the flute’s supreme mellifluous qualities. This concerto is a fantastic addition to the flute music repertoire and no doubt other flautists will want to get to know it once they have heard it.
The single movement work by the Venezuelan composer Adina Izarra entitled Pitangus Sulphuratus (Concerto for Flute and Strings) takes its title from the name of a yellow and brown bird, also known as the Great Kiskadee. Large numbers of these live in the Caracas valley but also come all the way from southern Texas and northern Mexico, south to Uruguay, Paraguay and central Argentina, and onwards to Trinidad. While some do not consider it a “songbird” Adina Izarra has made a good case for selecting it as an inspiration for her work. Apparently it is known not only for its call which has given it its Spanish name of Cristofué (‘it was Christ’) but its ability to vary its song and the subtle variations between individual birds’ songs. The concerto begins with a representation of the call played while the soloist is still off-stage (preserved in this recording) with the soloist continuing to play while make her way to centre-stage. The call is also picked up at various times by the orchestra. There are other representations of life in the tropics from a lazy hot day in March to a hammock that swings gently. Faster sections involve variations on the dance merengue which originated in the Dominican Republic. There is also use of the sound made when the soloist sticks his tongue into the mouthpiece cutting the note off, a feature that often occurs in the playing of the panpipes by Peruvian and other South American folk groups. It is altogether a fascinating little concerto that again demonstrates Bezaly’s amazing technique. It is recorded here in a version created in 2007 with a newly composed cadenza commissioned by Sharon Bezaly’s husband, Robert von Bahr.
From South America to Australia and composer Carl Vine’s Pipe Dreams the work that gives the disc its title. To quote the composer’s description the work concerns ‘the folly that a flute – the instrument itself – might harbour its own secret wishes. In a universe where all is possible, what might a pipe dream?’ The work aims to ‘explore as much dreaminess as possible, filtered through the wilfulness of a metal pipe that believes it has no limits’. As you may imagine the work is full of imagination with a classic structure of moderate – slow – fast.
It’s back to South America for the last work on the disc and Argentinean composer Ginastera’s Impresiones de la Puna, written in 1934, when he was aged 18. In it he demonstrates his love for the indigenous music of his country, particularly of the North West and the Andes. In the quechua language puna refers to the high plateaux of the central Andes, around the borders between Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Not surprisingly it reminded me again of the panpipes though the first movement is entitled quena which is a vertical notched flute played by putting it against the groove underneath the bottom lip and blowing across the notch. This movement and, indeed the whole piece, despite its short 7 minute length, is full of beautiful melodies. It is very evocative, especially the final movement subtitled Danza which recalls the cueca, which is danced in BoliviaPeruArgentina and Chile, where it was officially designated the national dance in 1979. Throughout this piece and all the compositions on this exciting and enjoyable disc Sharon Bezaly is ably supported by the Australian Chamber Orchestra. She shows her incomparable abilities confirming her enviable position as one of the greatest flautists of all time, inspiring new works to add to the flute repertoire and producing thrilling discs such as this to revel in. This disc is a must have for all flute enthusiasts and for lovers of sumptuous music that excites and thrills in equal measure.
Steve Arloff
Sumptuous music that excites and thrills in equal measure.