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Romantic Flute Concertos - Benoit, Waelput, Fetis / Pas-van Riet, Bollon, Stuttgart Radio So

Release Date: 06/09/2009 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 98596   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Peter BenoitHendrick WaelputFrançois Joseph Fétis
Performer:  Gaby Pas-Van Riet
Conductor:  Fabrice Bollon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart SW German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

BENOIT Poème symphonique. WAELPUT Concerto symphonique. FÉTIS Flute Concerto in b Gaby Pas-Van Riet (fl); Fabrice Bollon, cond; Stuttgart Southwest German RSO HÄNSSLER 98.596 (71:40)

A disc entitled “Romantic Flute Concertos” sounds bland and traditional enough until one stops to think what those concertos might be. Flute concertos abounded in the 18th century. Read more In the 20th century, there have also been a good number written by prominent composers, especially in the past few decades. But the 19th century? One would be hard-pressed to name a single major figure who left a concerto for this instrument. Anyone looking for material to fill this gap needs look no further than the three Belgian works offered here.

Of the three composers represented, only one is likely to be recognized even by seasoned Fanfare readers, François-Joseph Fétis, and even he is far better known as a musicologist and author (his library purportedly contained over 7,000 volumes) than as a composer. His Concerto in B Minor is the most conservative and classically oriented of the three. It is not distinctive in any way, though it is eminently well crafted, pleasing, and constructed from mostly foursquare phrases. If Paganini or Weber had written a flute concerto, it might have sounded like this.

All three compositions are substantial, three-movement works dating from the late 1860s. All are solidly tonal and non-adventurous in their harmonic language. What is remarkable about them is the degree of orchestral involvement. There are sustained orchestral interludes, solo passages for other instruments, and numerous dialogues between soloist and orchestra. The slow movement of Peter Benoit’s Poème symphonique , for example, features a horn quartet. The slow movement of Hendrik Waelput’s 32-minute Concerto symphonique opens with two minutes of haunting horn solos alternating with a cello quartet. Almost anywhere the full orchestra is used it sounds truly symphonic, with a full complement of winds and brass befitting a Tchaikovsky or Dvo?ák symphony. There is even a short fugal passage in the final movement in the finale of the Waelput.

Gaby Pas-Van Riet is nothing less than sensational. In addition to serving as principal flute in the Stuttgart RSO, which partners her on this disc, she is a member of the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra and has been “permanent guest solo flutist” with the Berlin Philharmonic. Her tone is plump and full in the midrange, appropriately brilliant but never shrill in the upper range. There is not a trace of effort in her playing, but neither is there an overt bid for virtuosic effect.

All of these works merit investigation, not only by flutists in search of worthy alternatives to the ubiquitous Mozart or Nielsen concertos, but also by anyone interested in the lesser lights of the 19th century. My favorite is the Benoit, its opening fiery and impassioned in the best Romantic tradition—something Schumann might have written as part of his Manfred incidental music—with throbbing basses, surging violins, and trumpet fanfares. The soloist makes her entrance almost at once, and thereafter has a formidable challenge competing with the large, Romantic orchestra, a feat Benoit’s skillful writing allows to happen. The finale brims with energy and momentum.

The Stuttgart RSO plays with that characteristic German blend of warmth and brilliance, but the top-notch engineering ensures that the soloist is never overwhelmed. This release is almost certain to make my Want List next year.

FANFARE: Robert Markow
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Works on This Recording

Symphonic Poem for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 43a by Peter Benoit
Performer:  Gaby Pas-Van Riet (Flute)
Conductor:  Fabrice Bollon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart SW German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1865; Belgium 
Length: 20 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Martin Vögele. 
Concerto for Flute by Hendrick Waelput
Performer:  Gaby Pas-Van Riet (Flute)
Conductor:  Fabrice Bollon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart SW German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Belgium 
Length: 32 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Martin Vögele. 
Concerto for Flute by François Joseph Fétis
Performer:  Gaby Pas-Van Riet (Flute)
Conductor:  Fabrice Bollon
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart SW German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869; Belgium 
Length: 19 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Friedemann Trumpp. 

Sound Samples

Flute Concerto, Op. 43a: I. Preludium: Will-O'-The-Wisps
Flute Concerto, Op. 43a: II. Melancholie
Flute Concerto, Op. 43a: III. Finale: Will-O'-The-Wisps Dance
Concerto Symphonique: I. Allegro moderato
Concerto Symphonique: II. Andante cantabile
Concerto Symphonique: III. Allegro molto
Flute Concerto in B minor: I. Allegro
Flute Concerto in B minor: II. Adagio
Flute Concerto in B minor: III. Allegro ma non troppo

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