“Dedicated to Barrere, Vol. 2” = PHILIPPE GAUBERT: Sonatine quasi Fantasia for flute and piano; Invocation (Danse de pretresses); LEONARDO DE LORENZO : Sogno Futurisco (Futuristic Dream); CHRISTIAAN KRIENS: La Nymphe Bocagere for flute and piano; H. MAURICE JACQUET: Nocturne for flute and harp; WALLINGFORD RIEGGER: Suite for flute alone; CHARLES GRIFFES: Poem; MARION BAUER: Forgotten Modes; RICHARD FRANKO GOLDMAN: Two Monochromes; ALBERT ROUSSEL: Andante and Scherzo for flute and piano; EDGARD VARESE: Density 21.5 – Leone Buyse, flute/ Martin Amlin, piano/ Paula Page, harp – Crystal CD716, 68:59 ****:
Crystal Records has a long history of recording instrumental recitals and chamber repertoire. Their catalog is full of some excellent performances by orchestral musicians and university performers whose playing comes to light in the solo recital genre and usually to superb results. Such is another example in this second edition of flute works commissioned by Georges Barrere and performed beautifully by Leone Buyse.
First, some background and who’s who: Georges Barrere was the French- born principal flutist with the old New York Symphony, under Walter Damrosch in 1905, and for many years thereafter. Barrere was also a gifted solo performer who commissioned many extraordinary works for the flute from some of the early twentieth century’s best known composers both in and beyond his native France. The soloist in this recording, Leone Buyse, is the former principal flutist with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops, performing as an orchestral musician of note for over twenty years. She continues to perform and record chamber music, such as the present, while also serving as a professor of flute at Rice University. She is joined on this wonderful recording by pianist Martin Amlin, of Boston University; who is also a composer of note, as well as by harpist Paula Page of the Houston Symphony. All performances are superb, indeed. Buyse is a gifted interpreter of this music and has a wonderful tone and excellent technique.
The music, here, is all very interesting and makes for very enjoyable listening. To non-flutists, the two that – arguably – most people have at least heard of are the Griffes Poem and Varese’s Density 21.5. (I remember – only somewhat fondly – having to analyze the progress of the tone row within that in my undergraduate theory-comp class!) The Griffes is a well known and rhapsodic work originally written for flute and orchestra. Density 21.5 refers literally to the density of platinum, the precious but very stable metal of which Barrere’s flute was made. The instrument was made by the renowned Haynes company for Barrere and was, apparently, the first platinum flute made. This work is a staple for serious flutists and is also the most “modern” work in this set, with its atonality and key slaps.
There are two works by Philippe Gaubert represented here. Both his Sonatine quasi Fantasia and the Invocation from his Suite for flute and piano. Gaubert was also a bit of a child prodigy flutist who studied with Barrere and these works are squarely in the French tradition with lush harmonies and very pleasant melodies. The Sonatine was written in homage to Schumann. The work by Maurice Jacquet, the Nocturne for flute and harp, is in the same tradition as the Gaubert works and is patterned after Bach’s Eb Prelude. Jacquet was a teaching colleague of Barrere and is also a clear member of the same stylist cadre of Roussel, d’Indy and Gaubert.
The other names in this collection known especially to woodwind players are Wallingford Riegger and Albert Roussel. The Riegger Suite for flute alone has some elements in common with the Varese in its use of twelve-tone elements but in a more tonally centered fashion. The work debuted in 1930 and was praised for being a contemporary piece but with some traditional accessibilities. Albert Roussel wrote his Andante and Scherzo for the “other” French flute giant of the day, Marcel Moyse. This work, also well known to flutists everywhere, has a lot in common with d’Indy and is infused with very pleasant melodies.
I enjoyed this disc mainly for the discovery of works and composers I was not familiar with. Leonardo de Lorenzo was a flute colleague of Barrere’s and wrote textbooks about flute playing and a large bank of technical etudes, of which the Sogno futuristico is one. The performing connections to Georges Barrere are also evident in Christiaan Kriens, a violinist in the New York Symphony. His The Wood Nymph was an orchestral work, of which the Introduction and Fairy Caprice was transcribed into the charming flute version heard here.
Interestingly, Marion Bauer was one of New York’s – and the country’s – first advocates for women’s music. She taught with Barrere in New York and composed her Forgotten Modes for the New York Flute Club in 1938. The modes referenced in the title are the Greek modes upon which the piece is based. (The five movements are each built on a different ancient mode; such as mixolydian, and so forth.) I also found Richard Franko Goldman to be a new name. Written for the same New York Flute Club as the Bauer, his Two Monochromes was dedicated to Georges Barrere and is a wonderful little work but no evidence can be found that Barrere ever played the piece. Goldman was, like his father, a band leader in the New York downtown big band scene.
I enjoyed this collection a great deal. I think this would appeal to flutists, certainly and primarily. There is clearly enough variety in the program for non-flutists to find works to admire and to get to know. The performances by Leone Buyse with Amlin and Page are beautiful and worth admiring for any instrumentalist.
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