Emmanuel Pahud

Revolution: Flute Concertos

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Flutist Emmanuel Pahud has a knack for bringing the 18th century alive, and with this quartet of flute concertos he attempts to follow up his successful earlier release The Flute King, which included flute concertos from the orbit of Prussia's King Frederick the Great. Even allowing for the fact that musical-social correspondences aren't always as easy to detect as when Beethoven dedicated his Symphony No. 3 to Napoleon and then retracted the dedication, this program is a bit more diffuse in its concept than the last one. Only two of the concertos, by Devienne and Gianella, actually date from the revolutionary period, and none of the four shows much impact of the big operatic style of Spontini that influenced Beethoven and other composers. Pahud in a note sets out the Flute Concerto in G major by (probably) Gluck as a representative of the ancien régime, but if anything with its sensuous slow movement it seems strikingly modern. None of this is to say that the individual pieces, all (even the disputed Gluck work) pretty much unknown, aren't a lot of fun. Jean-Pierre Rampal used to play several of these works in concert, and Pahud seems to have set his mind on being Rampal's successor. That's a worthy aim, and with the confident virtuosity and fine breath control in big lines he seems well on his way to achieving the goal. Check out especially the Flute Concerto No. 7 in E minor by François Devienne, known in his time as the French Mozart; the lively, alert accompaniment by the Kammerorchester Basel under Giovanni Antonini is a major enhancement to Pahud's work here. A worthwhile flute release reminiscent of the Rampal classics.

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