Sharon Bezaly / Neeme Järvi

Great Works for Flute & Orchestra

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The recordings on Sweden's BIS label by Israeli-born flutist Sharon Bezaly have exposed a great deal of neglected and often highly virtuosic repertory, much of its brought within reach by Bezaly's unusual circular breathing technique. She's a remarkable flutist, but it's her repertory selection that really sets her apart from the crowd. She actually throws in some chestnuts, like Cécile Chaminade's Concertino for flute and orchestra, Op. 107, this time around, but the highlight is a really nifty and unknown little work: the Flute Concert in D major, Op. 283, of Carl Reinecke, composed in 1908. Its three movements reduce Wagnerian language to a compact concerto in all kinds of ingenious ways. Sample the first movement, where the flute provides a charming pastoral element against a varying backdrop. The other works are each characteristic of their composer, even including the very early Largo and Allegro for flute and strings of Tchaikovsky. This was a student work originally for two flutes and orchestra, and it's a bit frustrating to find out in the booklet not about the arrangement heard here, but about a different one. The Lennox Berkeley arrangement of Poulenc's Flute Sonata, not an easy work to transfer to orchestra, is more satisfactorily explained, and veteran conductor Neeme Järvi, leading the Residentie Orkest den Haag, catches its many subtle details. This is a thoroughly enjoyable program of flute music of the early 20th century, of the sort that has become Bezaly's fortunate trademark.

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