CARL NIELSEN: Flute Concerto; CHARLES T. GRIFFES: Poem for flute and orch.; FRANK MARTIN: Ballade for flute, string orch. and piano; JACQUES IBERT: Concerto for flute and orch. – Thomas Jensen, flute/ South Jutland Sym. Orch./ Giordano Bellincampi – Danacord multichannel SACD DACOCD 725, 55:41 [Distr. by Albany] *****:
Nielsen said of the flute in 1930: “The flute cannot belie its nature, it belongs in Arcadia and prefers the pastoral moods.” That is the nature of most of these four lovely works for flute and orchestra in fine performances in excellent multichannel hi-res sonics. The Nielsen Concerto was premiered in Paris in 1926 and has become one of the most important flute concertos of the 20th century. There is plenty of drama in the work, with the trombone, clarinet and timpani interacting with the flute. Nielsen achieves a sort of improvisatory mood with the flute part. A lovely work. Never heard of this orchestra or conductor before, but never mind.
The Griffes Poem for flute and orchestra is one of my personal favorite works for flute and orchestra. It has a similar French-influenced impressionistic sensuality as Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. In fact when Griffes penned the work he was inspired by the French flautist George Barrere, who had played the solo flute at the premiere of Debussy’s Prelude.
Like Debussy, Griffes loved Chinese and Japanese art, and gave his works an element of mystery with what he called synthetic scales. The work has varied instrumentation, with dialogues between the flute, cellos and a solo viola, with the use of harp, gong and the two French horns in the orchestra. Griffes died from overwork readying his music for a concert because he couldn’t afford to hire a copier.
Swiss composer Frank Martin originally wrote his Ballade in 1919 for flute and piano for a competition in Geneva. It makes use of the solo flute in all of its registers and also demonstrates the composer’s instrumental skills. It is not as atonal as many of Martin’s later works, having been written in the middle of a Europe on the edge of WWII, but reflects some of the desperate struggles of this period. The charm and lighter mood of most of Jacques Ibert’s work is illustrated in his Flute Concerto. Its first performance was in Paris in 1934, and it has indispensable qualities of pace, tempo and suppleness of tone. It is a living expression of French esprit. This is Danacord’s very first SACD issue.