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The World of the Flute - Volume 1
Neapolitan Serenade
Charles-Marie WIDOR
suite Op.34
Gabriel FAURÉ
Morceau de Concours
La fille aux cheveux doré
Reynaldo HAHN
Variations on a Theme by Mozart
arr. Rachel Smith Meditation (Ave Maria)
Philippe GAUBERT
Berceuse (arr. Bill Holcombe)
Gershwin Album
John Harrington YOUNG
The Curly Fifer (for piccolo and piano)
Rachel Smith (flute, alto flute, piccolo)
Clare Clements (piano)
rec. Peel Hall, Salford, April 2012

Martin ELLERBY (b.1957)
Songs without Words
Rachel Smith (flute, alto flute, piccolo)
Chris Thorpe (guitars and vocals and other instruments); Martin Ellerby (piano and other instruments); Lydia Shelley (cello); Rob Buckland (alto sax); David Clewlow (trumpet); Auriel Lesamp (oboe); Joel Coop, Kit Garner, Joao Carneiro (trumpets); Stephanie Jones, Kelly Del Vecchio, Alex Hambleton (horns); Ensemble Colombier/Mark Heron
rec. no date given, Le Colombier Studios, Labecede Lauragais France and RNCM, Manchester

These two discs, from different and largely unsung labels, are united by the artistry of flautist Rachel Smith and by composer Martin Ellerby who has a work on The World of the Flute. Ellerby is a child of the 1970s and of Cheshire. He lives in Altrincham and the liner-note mentions his affection for Dunham Massey.

Let's take The World of the Flute first. The Neapolitan Serenade by Ellerby is a manifestation of early 1970s filmic soft-focus romance. The Widor suite is in four movements including a briskly moving Moderato, a graciously prancing Scherzo and a galloping Mozartean finale dominated by salon-style intricacy. Fauré's Morceau de Concours again displays the gentler emotions with just the suggestion of a tear. It also has its flashy moments. Paul Lewis's La Fille Aux Cheveux Doré - has the same expressive slant as the Ellerby piece. Reynaldo Hahn's showy Variations on a Theme by Mozart is in a single track. Joseph Horovitz's Arabesque is subtle, cool and touching - very impressive. The Bach/Gounod is heard in an adept arrangement by Ms Smith. The Meditation (Ave Maria) is well known and has been most naturally arranged. Philippe Gaubert wrote some superb orchestral music. His flute Berceuse is one of many things he wrote for the instrument. It's a charming piece of fluff. Bill Holcombe arranged some Gershwin standards in his Gershwin Album: 'S Wonderful, Embraceable You, The Man I Love, Who Cares, Someone To Watch Over Me and Liza. It's all very danceable, dignified and far from smoochy. These are free arrangements with inspiration taking wing from the originals. There's a real Broadway swell in Who Cares. Smith switches to alto flute for Someone To Watch Over Me while Liza is danceable in a flapperish way. John Harrington Young's The Curly Fifer for piccolo rather than flute is all perky gamin — just what the title suggests. There are three or four British items on The World of the Flute and clearly Ms Smith is not averse to such material. She embraces the genre wholesale in the case of Campion Cameo 2030 under the title Summer was in August.
Songs Without Words was inspired by Schubert's song-cycle, Die schöne Müllerin and recounts the story of the Miller's unrequited love. It's a crossover album with a fleecy-warm pop balance and Rachel Smith in central focus. It's not for aesthetes. The accompaniments are nicely done with the occasional helping of breathy orchestral romance and lapping sea noises. Ophelia deploys a harp as well as a touch of Ennio Morricone. Many of the tracks are unapologetically sentimental - a sort of personification of Peter Sarstedt's moustache. The Cat's Out has an Hispanic vitality, 'clackety' castanets and toreador-defiant trumpets - the sort of thing you hear at the end of Ponce's Guitar Concerto. Other tracks recall music from the film world of the 1970s: David Fanshawe's innocently charming score for Tarka the Otter and Howard Blake's glorious music for Riddle of the Sands. Add to this lashings of strummed 'high sierras' guitar and pizzicato Caribbean fun. In years to come one can imagine these tracks appearing on commercial light music collections. It belongs on the shelf close to Chandos 'Celtic age' Barry Douglas CDs and the music of Philip Gates. The disc is also available in another version with two CDs, one as reviewed here and the other, minus the flute part, but with the flute part score.

Two quite different CDs with the highly talented Rachel Smith well and truly at ease in both.

Rob Barnett

Ellerby track listing
The Stream's Lullaby; Le Colombier; Ophelia; Paint the Mountain Blue; Cradle Song; Just The Two Of Us; Hazel Eyes; There is No-one Quite Like You; Miranda; The Cat's Out; Tell Jenny I Love Her; Trouble Boy; Figures in a Landscape; Cool Jewel; San Antonio; Schoolboy in the Sky; The Blue Train; No More Chasing Angels; Crossing Jordan; Leap into Reality; Yippee! ('bonus track')


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