Charles Koechlin — Les Chants de Nectaire. First Series (Op. 198) Nicola Woodward, flute
Release Date: 28th August 2020. Physical & Digital Distribution: NAXOS
Préambule; Naissance de la vie; Jeux de la lumière; Clartés de l’Esprit; Jeunesse du monde; Les tranquillesclartés de l’intelligence; ..criblent de flèches l’Erreur et la Bêtise; Le rire vainqueur; Gaîté de la lumière; Les Vaines querelles (« à qui bon? »); la Tendresse; La Plainte humaine; La Nuit; Souffles de Printemps sur la mer; Lumière-modération-équilibre; L’Amour; La Pitié; Pour les âmes souffrantes; Le Jardin des Muses; LesVrilles de la Vigne; Les Heures douces; La crainte; Idylle; Clair de lune sur la mer; L’Elan vers la vie; «Le Désir qui créé les Mondes»; L’Effort de l’Homme; Le Vaincu médite; Le Soir; Le Calme du Sage; Gaîté dumatin ensoleillé; Méditation sur la douleur humaine.
Elizabeth Walker writes:
I was hugely excited to receive Nicola Woodward’s recording of Charles Koechlin’s Les Chants de Nectaire – the first of three CDs covering the complete works for solo flute – opus 198, 199, 200, in three separate recordings.
Opening the book of Chants is like embarking on a series of novels. You sense that you are in for a long story and that time will stand still while you immerse yourself in this highly creative and intense journey.
Immediately I was struck by the enveloping, warm tone that Nicola finds even in the opening ppp presque rien in the Préambule. Yes, there is a huge acoustic here, and this helps the ambient sound, but it is Nicola’s expressive use of air and vibrato that shape the tone in this recording.
In my edition (Gérard Billaudot) of the work, Pierre-Yves Artaud writes: “
The rhythmic structure also reveals a high level of imagination: momentary or total absence of bar measures alternating with strictly-timed sections…The melodic line moves from very slow, almost immobile tempi – where each sound becomes an inner meditation – to frenzied, chaotic dance tempi.
I can think of no better flautist to represent this level of detail than Nicola Woodward. She effortlessly glides through the Souffles du Printemps sur la mer, having previously found a hauntingly smooth and lyrical sound for La Nuit and an exquisite dark, rich tone for La Plainte humaine. So many passages demand the softest sound and Nicola presents these tonalities with care and clarity, but she contrasts this with an equal ability to play boldly and powerfully where required – such as in the opening of …criblent de flèches l’Erreur et la Bêtise.
There is really too much here to comment on each individual movement – but rest assured, Nicola finds the characterisation of each varied movement, with commitment to every nuance, and she captures all the varied emotions with a sumptuous tone and resonance. With such musical intelligence and a prodigious technique on the flute, all the markings in the score are faithfully interpreted and these are combined with Nicola’s ability to add her own emotions and imagination, giving the work all the musical freedom required.
This will be a go-to disk for every flautist wanting to hear a fine interpretation of these stunning pieces.
Reviewed on September 8th 2020 by Elizabeth Walker
Elizabeth Walker studied the flute and recorder as a junior at the Royal College of Music, where she was awarded the Sally Wainwright Woodwind Prize in 1985 and later at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying modern flute with Kathryn Lukas, Baroque flute with Stephen Preston, Renaissance flute with Nancy Hadden and recorder with Philip Pickett. During this time of study, Elizabeth was also involved in a number of Early Music recordings with Decca for the New London Consort and in Holland with Frans Bruggen’s orchestra. Elizabeth currently teaches the flute at the specialist music school in Wells, England, and runs Flutes in Tuscany, an annual flute course in Italy. She is an International Artist for Pearl Flutes.
Nicola Woodward — An Introduction to Les Chants de Nectaire, Vol. 1.
Since Elizabeth’s review of Book 1, Nicola has issued both Book and Book 3 of the Koechlin collection.
Here is her introduction to Book 2:
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