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François DEVIENNE (1759-1803)
Flute Concerto No.13 in D, Op. posth. (1786-88?) [14:14]
Sinfonia concertante No.6 in G, Op.76* (late 1790s) [18:48]
Sinfonia concertante No.3 in B-flat, Op.25* (1778/82?) [16:17]
Giovanni Battista VIOTTI (1775-1824)
Violin Concerto No.23 in G (transcribed for flute by Viotti) (c.1792/94) [24:15]
Per Flemstrĝm (flute)*
Swedish Chamber Orchestra/Patrick Gallois (flute)
rec. 30 August - 3 September 2016, Concert Hall, Örebro, Sweden. DDD.
NAXOS 8.573697 [73:43]

This is the fourth (not the thirteenth, as some dealers have it) and final volume in a series which we first reviewed in 2015. Stephen Francis Vasta kicked us off with a review of the first volume in which, though he expressed some reservations, an overall favourable impression left him looking forward to the rest of the series. Leon Bosch was also favourably impressed – review. I must have been ‘snorting in the Seven Sleepers’ den’ because I’ve missed that and all the earlier volumes in the series. I’m pleased now to make the latest possible amends. As I can’t find MusicWeb reviews of the other volumes, I’ve dipped into them, too, courtesy of that useful adjunct, Naxos Music Library. That also offers an earlier Naxos recording of Concertos Nos. 2 and 7 and a Sinfonia Concertante for flute and bassoon, with Marc Grauwels as the flautist (8.555918 - review).

Concerto No.7 in e minor is probably the best known, making Volume 2 of the Gallois series, containing Nos. 5-8, the best place to start (8.573464). Devienne’s music dates from just before and after the French Revolution and though it sounds rather placid, as if untouched by the turmoil1, it seems that either the Terror which followed that event or sheer over-work drove the composer to end his days in an asylum.

Gallois’s performances on Volume 2 are marked by brisk tempi, especially in the adagio of No.7, as compared with Grauwels on the earlier Naxos, András Adorján, the Munich Chamber Orchestra and Hans Stadlmaier, recorded in 1992/3, on Tudor (TUDOR1622, Nos. 4-7, or complete on 4 CDs, TUDOR1620) and, indeed, by comparison with James Galway and the London Mozart Players (RCA G0100032445978, with No.8 and Cimarosa, download or streaming only). Gallois’ fine technique, however, ensured that I didn’t find him over-hasty.

I listened to Adorján’s account of No.13 in the complete Tudor set, courtesy of Naxos Music Library. It seems as if Gallois may have taken note of comments made in some quarters in preference of the slower tempi on Tudor: this time the timings for the outer movements are almost identical and Gallois takes the central movement (romance, andante) noticeably more sedately even than Adorján. If anything, this time it’s Adorján and his accompaniment who have the lighter touch: my opening impression on listening to the Naxos was that the Swedish Chamber Orchestra sounded a little too large-scale – not exactly heavy but more like late Mozart than Devienne – though they or I soon adjusted.

The Tudor complete set includes only one Sinfonia Concertante, the Op.76, taken at much the same pace as by Gallois. Marianne Henkel is the second soloist there, with Per Flemstrĝm taking that role here. The recording is dedicated to the memory of Flemstrĝm, who died in 2017. These are attractive works and they receive attractive performances from all concerned.

Devienne transcribed several of Viotti’s violin concertos for the flute 2, not an unusual thing to do at the time: two of Vivaldi’s Op.8 violin concerts are specifically offered as equally suitable for the oboe. I haven’t heard the recording of No.23 with Mario Carbotti as soloist (Dynamic CDS727, with No.16 - review) but Gallois’s recording, with his own cadenzas, will do very nicely. It’s slightly more substantial than the Devienne concertos and it rounds off an attractive if not exactly mandatory recording.

With good recorded sound and helpful notes, this final volume of the series rivals Volume 2 as an ideal introduction to Devienne’s flute concertos. Lovers of eighteenth-century music should aim to have at least one of the series.

1 Devienne is more an artist of the Enlightenment than of the Revolution. The complete Tudor set has a Fragonard illustration on the cover, which is entirely appropriate.

2 The Naxos notes state that Viotti arranged his own concertos, which may be correct.

Brian Wilson

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