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François DEVIENNE (1759-1803) Flute Concerto No.1 in D Major [17:35]
Flute Concerto No.2 in D Major [17:12]
Flute Concerto No.3 in G Major [15:18]
Flute Concerto No.4 in G Major [16:38]
Patrick Gallois (flute)
Swedish Chamber Orchestra
rec. Örebro Concert Hall, Örebro, Sweden, 20-24 May 2013 NAXOS 8.573230 [66:42]
François Devienne was a man of extraordinary accomplishments
and even though he has many compositions in other genres to his credit,
it is for his contribution to the music for wind instruments, especially
the flute, that he is best remembered. He is also most significantly
credited with founding the French school of flute playing.
This recording, with Patrick Gallois as both soloist and director, is
the first in a series that is intended to include the complete concertos
for flute by both Devienne and Mercadante. Although the performances
prove to be charming and enjoyable throughout, the disc is unfortunately
not entirely devoid of problems.
The unnatural balance between orchestra and soloist, at its most noticeable
in the first concerto, creates the disconcerting impression of two separate
musical events proceeding in tandem. The peculiar balance also favours
an unduly booming cello and bass line which compromises clarity, especially
in the orchestral ritornellos. Inconsistencies in phrasing and articulation
between soloist and orchestra are also too numerous to be merely dismissed
as spontaneous creative flourishes.
This disc has much to commend it however and Gallois’ erudite
musicianship and effortless technique make him a worthy standard-bearer
for the French school of flute playing, as well as champion of the music
of his illustrious predecessor, François Devienne.
The structure of the four attractive concertos presented on this recording
follows much the same pattern of fast-slow-fast, even if a Romance in
concertos three and four replaces the Adagio second movements of the
first and second concertos.
Patrick Gallois is sensitive to this subtle difference, not just in
his choice of tempi, but also aesthetically. He is a musician of some
complexity and he brings out the very best in Devienne’s concertos.
The lively allegro first movements are presented with a degree of continuity
between the concertos and the final movement rondos also benefit from
thoughtful structural underpinning.
Gallois successfully convinces the listener of his commitment to the
music, and whilst Devienne’s flute concertos are already well
represented in the catalogue, including flamboyant and suave performances
by artists like James Galway and Jean-Pierre Rampal, these are persuasive
performances that are a worthwhile addition.