When the German transverse flute found its place in Italy and was accepted by the Catholic church as a suitable replacement for the proscribed recorder, Antonio Vivaldi took to it with great enthusiasm. His flute concertos mark a point of departure, coming after he had completed his 40 bassoon concertos and virtually all of the string concertos. Although some of these pieces were reworkings of material previously composed for recorder, Vivaldi came to capitalize on new techniques he learned from Ignazio Siber, the flute instructor at the Ospedale della Pietà. Of Vivaldi's 15, the 7 flute concertos presented here were freshly written for the instrument. Each has a distinct character and the levels of virtuosity vary between them, but all are charming and rank among Vivaldi's freshest compositions. The most famous of these works is the expressive Concerto in D major, nicknamed "Il Gardellino," the only one of the flute concertos to be published in Vivaldi's lifetime. Flutist Janet See plays with a chaste tone, at times suggestive of the recorder's sound but more focused and controlled, especially in rapid passages. The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, under Nicholas McGegan's direction, gives delicate support and transparent accompaniment to set off See's buoyant performance.(Blair Sanderson)
It comes as no surprise that, a year after Rampal's death, James Galway should dedicate a disc to him. After all, Galway has always cited the Frenchman as his true mentor - and it was with Rampal that Galway first spied a golden flute. The recording actually happened over a year before Rampal died but appropriately enough contains concertos by the French Classical composer François Devienne, of whose music Rampal was a noted interpreter.
When the majority of flute concertos are lightweight, it is not surprising that leading flautists are keen to expand the repertory, adapting more ambitious works. That is how, on the suggestion of the composer himself, Jean-Pierre Rampal in 1968 came to prepare a brilliant transcription of Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto recorded here by Emmanuel Pahud. A soft-grained flute could hardly cut through orchestral textures in the concert-hall in the way a violin can, but on disc careful balancing without focusing on the solo instrument too aggressively has produced a successful result.
One of the more puzzling remarks about the music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach came from Mozart, who said that anyone who listened closely would realize his debt to the German composer. That seemed unlikely, given that Mozart only rarely availed himself of the Sturm und Drang ("storm and stress") style of C.P.E.'s keyboard music. But listen to this release by flutist Emmanuel Pahud and you'll get an idea of what Mozart was talking about. It's not just that the flute concertos are basically galant in style, not Sturm und Drang. It's a certain nervous energy that makes the flute bloom rapidly out of squarish themes and keeps you guessing as to what's coming next.
Izrael-born Sharon Bezaly (who now lives in Sweden) has rightly risen to the top of her field with silky performances like this one which seemed universally rated highly by the music press (Gramophone, ClassicsToday, etc). Her repertoire extends to many Scandanavian composers who have written several flute concertos for her marvelously refined technique (she was a student of Aurele Nicolet). On this recording she plays a 24k instrument custom-made for her by Muramatsu Japan.