This is a ‘Flutes ‘n’ Young Karłowicz’
disc and, as such, unlikely to be one viewed in the conventional
programming way. Who could have imagined that roping together
Mercadante, Doppler and Karłowicz would form an easy alliance?
All the more so, in fact, as two of the works, those by Doppler,
are heard in transcriptions for chamber orchestra. So, a weird
line-up and inauthentic to boot! Yet, in a perverse kind of
way, I rather admire the bizarre nature of it, the fact that
it doesn’t pretend to make any kind of sense.
Mercadante’s Concerto is in drag. It’s really an
operatic vocalise, dished up for flute in typical coloratura
fashion, a virtuoso piece of chicanery - and very enjoyable.
Łukasz Długosz is the intrepid Pied Piper, spinning
arias of scandalous richness and lyricism, adorned with operatic
fillips and asides, motored with powerful élan. You need
to be a charismatic and technically adroit soloist fully to
do justice to the instrumental writing; so too because Mercadante
is so associated with operatic music that you need to be a shape
shifter to convey the female vocalism inherent in the flute
writing. The dramatic recitative-like start of the central movement
is followed by gentle and soothing cantilena, and the finale,
à la Russe, is in popular vein - with the flute leading
the dance with unalloyed pleasure. Something of a test of breath
control, here, which Długosz duly passes.
For Doppler’s two pieces he is joined by his flautist
wife Agata Kielar-Długosz. The Andante and Rondo form an
obviously contrasting pair and in this bulked-up chamber orchestra
version convey plenty of charm, in the former case, and feistier
excitement in the latter. Doppler is most famous for his orchestration
of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies. The Duettino hongrois,
transcribed by conductor Marzena Diakun, has something of this
excitement, though operating on a far lower level of characterization.
Karłowicz’s Serenade is a very early work,
an apprentice piece in fact. It’s conducted not by Diakun
but by Marcin Sompoliński. It’s always good to hear
this charming piece again, with its quotient of Pyotr Ilyich,
and the antique wit of its finale. It could have done with richer
characterisation and phrasing in this performance.