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Absinthe: Café Music for Flute and Piano
Track listing below review
Gaspar Hoyos (flute); David Violi (piano)
Recording dates not provided. 16-bit FLAC downloaded from
FLEUR DE SON FDS58022 [65:40]

This CD is hard to review because I want to just say “it’s totally fun and wonderful!” and send that to my editors. How are you supposed to criticise something this lovable? Gaspar Hoyos and David Violi avoid the big names in French flute music (Gaubert, Poulenc) and still come up with an hour of total delights.

Favourite moments? Practically the whole disc. Gary Schocker’s opening suite, Show Tunes, is a definite highlight, because even titles like “Ooh lala!” can’t convey how fun these jazzy, show-tuney, sultry little pieces are. They’re a glass of champagne for your ears. Erik Satie’s Le Piccadilly shows up in a confident, witty arrangement, and Nicolas Bacri adds a little bit of well-crafted dissonance to the parade of cheeky miniatures and evocative nocturnes. His Three Impromptus sound like a major work, except they’re only two minutes each. Bacri’s frenetic “Opening Night” sounds like the actors aren’t quite ready for the spotlight, unlike Gary Schocker’s “Opening night!” (“!” included), which sounds like everyone has loaded up on glasses of Sancerre and they’re waiting for the overture to end and the girls to start dancing.

Schocker’s “Chanson”, at seven minutes, is the longest track here, and a gorgeous one, with a long melody that never finds a false or cloying note. By the way, Schocker is a gifted American flautist-composer. James Galway premiered his concerto for the instrument. Reynaldo Hahn is a major contributor to the recital, never better than in his Two Pieces, the first a gentle lilting dance which seems too peaceable to be a dance. It’s like a waltz in one-two time.

The performers are fantastic, and so’s the sound. Everyone seems to have had a lot of fun making this album. Oh! I thought of a criticism. This album should not be called “Absinthe”. It should be called “Macarons”. The last time I had absinthe, my friend got black-out drunk and did some cruel things we both regretted. The last time I had macarons, I was on a boulevard in Paris, at breakfast-time, having dazzling vanilla bean macarons from Mori Yoshida, feeling a heady combination of excitement and inner peace. So forget about absinthe. This disc won’t give you a hangover or hallucinations or an urge to do stupid things. This disc is macarons.

Get an assortment of pastries, then use your computer to rearrange the tracks for a wine-tasting. Pair the Schocker pieces with brut rosé champagne, Reynaldo Hahn with an Alsace pinot blanc, and Nicolas Bacri with a dark, bold red, perhaps something from the Languedoc or Bandol. Save Satie for the end, and present it with something sweet.

Brian Reinhart

Track listing
Gary SCHOCKER (b.1959)
Show Tunes [6:32]
Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947)
Nocturne [5:56]
Erik SATIE (1866-1925)
Le Piccadilly [1:58]
Je te veux [2:26]
La diva de l’Empire [2:59]
Reynaldo Hahn
Chanson gris No. 5 [2:40]
A Chloris [3:09]
Gary Schocker
For Friends, No. 5: Absinthe [5:14]
Nicolas BACRI (b.1961)
Three Impromptus, Op. 115 [6:09]
Musique Francaise [14:28]
Reynaldo HAHN
Two pieces [6:10]
Nicolas BACRI
Petit musique de nuit, Op. 111 [6:16]
Airs a faire fuir [1:44]