François DEVIENNE (1759-1803)
Flute Concerto No. 7 in E minor (1787) [17.47]
Luigi GIANELLA (pre. 1778-1817)
Flute Concerto No. 1 in D minor (pub. c.1800) [18.24]
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)
Flute Concerto in G (c. 1770s) [13.16]
Ignaz PLEYEL (1757-1831)
Flute Concerto in C, B106 (c. 1797 orig. clarinet concert) [23.22]
Emmanuel Pahud (flute)
Kammerorchester Basel/Giovanni Antonini
rec. 2014, Landgasthof, Riehen, Switzerland
WARNER CLASSICS 2564 627678 [73.10]

For the last decade or so I have seen Emmanuel Pahud perform several times each season in concert as principal flute of the Berliner Philharmoniker. The Geneva born Pahud who trained at the Conservatoire de Paris has also carved out a distinguished solo career and has just released this his latest album: four flute concertos from the time around the French Revolution. The works focus on a thirty year period centring on the Storming of the Bastille in 1789 a time considered significant in the development of the flute as a solo instrument. It covers the period from the late-Baroque known as the Galant style of Gluck journeying through to the concertos of Luigi Gianella and Ignaz Pleyel.

The first work on the release is by François Devienne, an instrumentalist and noted composer of operas who played the bassoon in the orchestra of Paris Opéra and had a prominent part in revolutionary Paris. With twelve published flute concertos to his name Devienne is best known is his Flute Concerto No. 7 in E minor from 1787. Pauhud is in his element with this agreeable, upbeat work with its peaceful Adagio flanked by two highly vivacious Allegro movements. Flautist Luigi Gianella, a flute player and composer was a member of the La Scala orchestra in Milan who later travelled to Paris to join the orchestra of the Opéra-Comique. Published in Paris circa 1800 Gianella’s Flute Concerto No. 1 in D minor is a work influenced by the Bel Canto style of opera. This melodic quality is evident throughout. The two outer movements are exceedingly spirited and are played by Pahud with a sure sense of vivacity. They are either side of a calming Adagio.

Gluck a celebrated opera composer working in Paris wrote his Flute Concerto in G around the 1770s in the Gallant style that had been popular but was starting to wane. I found the opening Allegro non molto confident and stylish followed by a comforting Adagio quite wonderful played. The vivacious Finale: Allegro molto is full of charming writing for the flute. The final work on the release is from the pen of the Austrian born Ignaz Pleyel who settled in Paris at the time the foundation of the Conservatoire. The Flute Concerto in C, B106 written circa 1797, was originally a Clarinet Concerto with Pleyel making arrangements of the work both for flute and for cello. The work opens with a surprisingly lengthy Allegro given brisk and exubwerant playing. A warmly delicate rather affectionate Adagio is followed by an attractive Rondo: Allegro molto spiritedly played.

Flawless throughout Pahud provides sparkling playing high on joie de vivre, charm and natural poetic insight. Marvellously paced under the direction of Giovanni Antonini and I can’t fault the contribution of the Kammerorchester Basel. They make a splendid sound using modern instruments and this feels both stylish and spontaneous. The sound team for Warner has excelled in clarity and in balance between soloist and orchestra. This is an excellently presented work on Warner Classics with the well illustrated booklet containing an interview with Emmanuel Pahud. There’s also an informative essay titled Revolution by Denis Verroust of the Association Jean-Pierre Rampal.

Michael Cookson

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