FRANCESCA ARNONE: Games of Light; CHARLES KOECHLIN: Les Chants De Nectaire; WILLIAM ALYWN: Divertimento for Solo Flute; MIKLOS ROZSA: Sonata for Solo Flute; ARTHUR WILLNER: Sonate Für Flöte Alleinm – MSR Classics MS1457, 73:01 [10/15/13] (Distr. by Albany) ****:
Games of Light is a very agreeable selection of solo flute music played by Francesca Arnone. Arnone is a distinguished musician and educator, who has championed contemporary music and been very involved with young players. A veteran of regional and opera orchestras in the United States and Mexico, she has also been a concerto soloist on flute, alto flute, and piccolo, playing repertoire ranging from Bach to Chen Yi. She earned flute performance degrees from Oberlin Conservatory, San Francisco Conservatory, and the University of Miami, where she studied with Robert Willoughby, Julia Bogorad-Kogan, Tim Day and Christine Nield. Francesca plays a 14k white gold Brannen Cooper flute with an 18k gold head joint made by J.R. Lafin.
This CD contains the music of four modern composers, two of them with roots in film music. None of the music, except the Rozsa, was familiar to me.
I find listening to solo instruments requires a very different mindset than listening to my usual diet of orchestral music. With a solo wind instrument, the spatial clues are limited, and the fullness of an orchestra is substituted for a single instrument playing within its pre-ordained range. That is not to say it is unpleasant. Rather it takes a different set of responses. One gets absorbed by the music in a different way than with an orchestra, and it is surely a pleasant experience.
The playing on offer here is sublime. The Koechlin was interesting. I’ve heard Alwyn’s film scores, but nothing this delicate. The Rozsa has been recorded before by the Pantheon label and Bonita Boyd. I prefer the Pantheon recording but liked the Armone performance better.
The recording here is fairly close up. There is just a hint of the room and that is probably how this music should be rendered. The liner notes give no clue about the recording venue, but it’s not really needed.
Games of Light is a very worthwhile diversion from my usual orchestra fare. The compositions are well chosen and work well together. The musicianship is without flaw. The flute has been called the light of the orchestra, but it is brilliant in its own right as fully demonstrated on this CD.