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Flute Vocalise / Kenneth Smith, Paul Rhodes

Chaminade / Chopin / Godard / Borne / Smith
Release Date: 06/25/2013 
Label:  Divine Art   Catalog #: 24156   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Cécile Louise ChaminadeFrédéric ChopinCamille Saint-SaënsBenjamin Godard,   ... 
Performer:  Kenneth SmithPaul Rhodes
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

FLUTE VOCALISE Kenneth Smith (fl); Paul Rhodes (pn) DIVERSIONS 24156 (70:44)

CHAMINADE Concertino. CHOPIN Variations on a theme by Rossini. SAINT-SAËNS The Swan. GODARD Suite de Trois Morceaux. MASSENET Thais: Read more class="ARIAL12"> Méditation. DEBUSSY En Bateau. BRICCIOLDI Il Carnevale di Venezia. RACHMANINOFF Vocalise. GOUBERT Nocturne et Allegro Scherzando. FAURÉ Berceuse. BORNE Fantaisie Brilliant sur Carmen

Kenneth Smith was the principal flutist with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London for more than 27 years and he is a familiar guest soloist with other major orchestras. He has collaborated with Paul Rhodes on 12 albums of music for flute and piano, five of which are devoted to music by British composers. Most of the selections on their Flute Vocalise album are French and were written between 1880 and 1912. The exceptions are Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise and Chopin’s Variations on a Theme by Rossini . The Vocalise is a beautifully calm and smooth piece, in which Smith shows his ability to play a perfect legato. He tops it with an exquisite trill. Rossini’s tune was first heard in 1816 as “Ah il più lieto,” the tenor’s coloratura aria in Il barbiere di Siviglia. Later, it appears as “Non più mesta,” the mezzo-soprano coloratura aria in the finale of La Cenerentola . Whether performed by a man, a woman, or a flute, it’s a tricky piece that demands the utmost in virtuosity. You can hear it sung by Juan Diego Flórez on youtube.com/watch?v=9OeIMoWcPmM and by Joyce DiDonato on youtube.com/watch?v=mX4u0D6k4hw.

Kenneth Smith plays the coloratura part with consummate flexibility, while Paul Rhodes provides a perfect accompaniment. There are quite a few other versions of the piece for flute and piano, most on MP3, but I like the Smith and Rhodes rendition. Other opera-based selections heard on this CD are Jules Massenet’s “Méditation” from Thais and François Borne’s Fantaisie Brilliante on themes from Georges Bizet’s Carmen . When Smith and Rhodes play the Massenet, they create a mystical ambience that draws the listener in and relaxes the brain. The Carmen excerpts are lively. Smith shows us more of his phenomenal flexibility and the piano is a full partner in this work. It’s a good reminder of the fun to be had listening to this uniquely tuneful opera.

Cécile Chaminade’s Flute Concertino was written as an examination piece for Paris Conservatory students, but has entered the popular repertoire. Last year it was number 85 on a French list of best-loved classics. Saint-Saëns’s The Swan is often presented as a ballet scene, but here we can concentrate on Smith’s impeccably smooth tone as he plays its beguiling music. Benjamin Godard’s three-piece suite provides a change from the more familiar tunes and it allows Rhodes, the pianist, to show more of his ability. The final Valse brings visions of ballroom dancing in the Gay Nineties. Claude Debussy’s En Bateau depicts a pleasant sail on a glassy sea. The sun is shining and there is just a suspicion of a breeze. Smith and Rhodes know how to paint a scene in the listener’s mind. I find Giulio Briccialdi’s Carnival in Venice rather amusing because its theme is a German children’s song I learned when I was very young. All the same, it’s a catchy tune that provides a great deal of material for incredibly interesting and virtuosic variations played by flute and piano. The first of Philippe Gaubert’s two short pieces, Nocturne , can put the listener in a dream-like state with its calming but sophisticated melodic line. His Allegro Scherzando , on the other hand, allows the flutist to decorate his melodic line. Flutist Susan Milan and pianist Ian Brown play it at a faster pace on their 1992 recording, Flute Fantaisie , but I prefer Smith and Rhodes’ more dream-like version. As played here, Gabriel Fauré’s Lullaby is a concert piece and it is an excellent addition to this delightful disc. Several comparable selections can be found on flutist Susan Hoeppner and pianist Lydia Wong’s Fantaisie Française , a disc released by Marquis Music. Unfortunately, it is not immediately available. Smith and Rhodes recorded the music for their Diversions disc in the 90s, but the sound is clear and both instruments are equally present. I think a great many lovers of flute music will want to own it.

FANFARE: Maria Nockin
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Works on This Recording

Concertino for Flute, Op. 107 by Cécile Louise Chaminade
Performer:  Kenneth Smith (Flute), Paul Rhodes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1902; France 
Variations for Flute and Piano in E major on Rossini's "Non piu mesta", B 9 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Kenneth Smith (Flute), Paul Rhodes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1824; Poland 
Carnival of the animals: no 13, The swan by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Kenneth Smith (Flute), Paul Rhodes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; France 
Suite de morceaux (3) for Flute and Piano, Op. 116 by Benjamin Godard
Performer:  Kenneth Smith (Flute), Paul Rhodes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; France 
Thaïs: Meditation by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Kenneth Smith (Flute), Paul Rhodes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; France 
Petite suite for Piano 4 hands: no 1, En bateau by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Kenneth Smith (Flute), Paul Rhodes (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1886-1889; France 
Carnival of Venice, Op. 77 by Giulio Briccialdi
Performer:  Kenneth Smith (Flute), Paul Rhodes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Songs (14), Op. 34: no 14, Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Kenneth Smith (Flute), Paul Rhodes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912-1915; Russia 
Nocturne and Allegro Scherzando for Flute and Piano by Philippe Gaubert
Performer:  Kenneth Smith (Flute), Paul Rhodes (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906; France 
Berceuse for Violin and Piano in D major, Op. 16 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Kenneth Smith (Flute), Paul Rhodes (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1879; France 
Fantasie brillante for Flute and Piano on Bizet's Carmen by François Borne
Performer:  Kenneth Smith (Flute), Paul Rhodes (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Poland 

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