The title of this 2019 Naxos album, Flute Music from the Harlequin Years, refers to a pamphlet published in 1918 by Jean Cocteau, Le Coq et l'Arlequin, which rejected the music of Wagner and Debussy and instead suggested a simpler style of composition for modern times. In response, members of Les Six and other sophisticates of the 1920s and 1930s adopted a detached, even whimsical, approach which incorporated folk songs and jazz influences, and favored a neoclassical coolness of expression. This coolness is perhaps best embodied by the flute, which offers a subdued tone, lean texture, and airy timbres -- the antithesis of Wagnerian bluster and Debussian lushness -- as well as an easy adaptability to various styles. This album by flutist Thies Roorda and pianist Alessandro Soccorsi samples the work of several prominent French composers, as well as American, Polish, and Hungarian contributors who fell under the charms of this light and unpretentious music. The two generations of composers represented here demonstrate the broad appeal of this music, both to older figures schooled on Romanticism, such as Pierre de Bréville, Paul Dukas, and Albert Roussel, and to the younger set that favored change, including Jacques Ibert, Alexandre Tansman, Tibor Harsányi, and George Antheil, along with members of Les Six, Francis Poulenc, Georges Auric, Darius Milhaud, and Arthur Honegger. In such a crowded gathering, variety is inevitable, and Roorda and Soccorsi offer a program that is constantly changing and delightful.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Andante and Scherzo, Op. 51|
|Flute Sonatina, Op. 76|
|3 Pièces for piano and flute|