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British Flute Concertos / Tovey, Beynon, BBC National Orchestra Of Wales

Alwyn / Berkeley / Bbc National Orch / Tovey
Release Date: 04/24/2012 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 10718  
Composer:  William AlwynLennox BerkeleyJonathan DoveFrancis Poulenc
Performer:  Emily Beynon
Conductor:  Bramwell Tovey
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Pure pleasure.

Edward III no longer sits on the English throne, and so his country’s claim to the Kingship of France is pretty rusty. And even given the rancorous attempts at annexation and retention of Normandy and Calais, one would have thought that the attempt to conquer and annexe Francis Poulenc - was there ever a Frenchman more French? - would end in dismal failure. Can Poulenc’s Flute Sonata be called a British Flute Concerto? More of that in a moment.
 
We begin Emily Beynon’s engaging recital with Jonathan Dove’s The Magic Flute Dances. This is musically true in his treatment - though am I alone in noting a sly allusion to John Adams’s The Chairman Dances? After the
Read more opera finishes Dove imagines the Magic Flute dancing on, taking the instrument very high at points in a kind of fantasia luxuriating in virtuosity. The flute finds itself in love with Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön, and Dove establishes a clear narrative of conceit-or at least he does to me. We move on to a cadential passage, then darker colours emerge and hints of unease, followed by over-blowing gentleness - if that’s not put it in too contradictory a way. There are hints of blue notes, too, before we return to earlier themes, high once again, in a cyclically intoxicated Elysian spree, as the flute assumes independence and freedom. That’s my own narrative interpretation, but the fun is that one can play out one’s own. It’s a delightful work - knowing, naughty, and brilliantly played by Beynon, who premiered it back in 1999.
 
William Alwyn’s 1980 Concerto for Flute and Eight Wind Instruments was arranged for orchestra by John McCabe in 2006. So this is another not-quite-a-concerto situation. There’s plenty of virtuosity inherent in the writing, though, and witty French clarity too; Les Six hijinx are cross-pollinated orchestrally with hints of Prokofiev; add a ballroom waltz of hallucinatory intensity, hints of Tristan, and a degree of wariness, before dramatic closure, and you have an exciting work, excitingly played.
 
Lennox Berkeley’s Flute Concerto was written in the early 1950s. He recorded it with James Galway. It’s felicitously scored, as ever, a thoughtful, largely internalized work that rejects the blandishments of easy virtuoso runs, instead reflecting, suggesting, and refracting with prismic clarity. There are certainly moments in which the soloist can soar with aerial grace but these are part of a more wide ranging, thoughtfully pensive scheme for this thoroughly approachable and rather beautiful work.
 
Now for the Frenchman. Berkeley himself arranged Poulenc’s Flute Sonata as a Concerto in 1976, thirteen years after Poulenc’s death. Beynon has already recorded the original sonata version, and one finds that finely though she plays it’s difficult for Berkeley to translate the pianistic into his new tissue of sound. Warmly done, though it clearly is - the neo-baroque figures and brisk orchestration in the finale especially - it’s doubtful that one would really want to listen to it too often. It’s a little too blunting of the original. So, no annexation really in this Anglo-French alliance.
 
But elsewhere, pure pleasure.
 
-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Flute and Eight Instruments by William Alwyn
Performer:  Emily Beynon (Flute)
Conductor:  Bramwell Tovey
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Notes: Arranged for flute and orchestra by John McCabe 
2. Concerto for Flute, Op. 36 by Lennox Berkeley
Performer:  Emily Beynon (Flute)
Conductor:  Bramwell Tovey
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
3. The Magic Flute Dances by Jonathan Dove
Performer:  Emily Beynon (Flute)
Conductor:  Bramwell Tovey
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 21st Century 
Written: England 
4. Sonata for Flute and Piano by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Emily Beynon (Flute)
Conductor:  Bramwell Tovey
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956-1957; France 
Notes: Arranged for flute and orchestra by Lennox Berkeley 

Sound Samples

The Magic Flute Dances: I. Light – Tentative, getting faster and bolder -
The Magic Flute Dances: II. (Cadenza) – Expansive, rapturous – Gently (twice as fast) – With movement, but plaintive -
The Magic Flute Dances: III. Angry – Desolate – Gently moving -
The Magic Flute Dances: IV. Slow – A little held back – Moving forward – Poco piu mosso -
The Magic Flute Dances: IV. Lively – Entranced
Concerto for Flute and 8 Wind Instruments (arr. J. McCabe): I. Allegro ritmico -
Concerto for Flute and 8 Wind Instruments (arr. J. McCabe): II. Allegretto scherzando -
Concerto for Flute and 8 Wind Instruments (arr. J. McCabe): III. Andante sostenuto e semplice -
Concerto for Flute and 8 Wind Instruments (arr. J. McCabe): IV. Allegro vivace
Flute Sonata, FP 164 (arr. L. Berkeley for flute and orchestra): I. Allegro malincolico - Un peu plus vite - Tempo I
Flute Sonata, FP 164 (arr. L. Berkeley for flute and orchestra): II. Cantilena: Assez lent - Piu vivo -
Flute Sonata, FP 164 (arr. L. Berkeley for flute and orchestra): III. Presto giocoso - Subito piu lento - Tempo I (Presto)
Flute Concerto, Op. 36: I. Allegro moderato - Cadenza - Andante - Un poco piu lento
Flute Concerto, Op. 36: II. Presto
Flute Concerto, Op. 36: III. Adagio
Flute Concerto, Op. 36: IV. Allegro vivace – Meno vivo – Tempo I – (Cadenza) – Presto

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