Glowing Sonorities: Sonatas by Schubert, Reinecke & Franck
A. Franz Schubert: Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano in A minor, D.821 (Transcription by Peter-Lukas Graf)
1. I. Allegro moderato
2. II. Adagio
3. III. Allegretto
B. Carl Reinecke: Sonata for Flute and Piano in E major, Op.167 “Undine”
4. I. Allegro
5. II. Intermezzo. Allegretto vivace
6. III. Andante tranquillo
7. IV. Finale. Allegro molto agitato ed appassionato, quasi Presto
C. César Franck: Sonata for Flute and Piano in A major
8. I. Allegretto ben moderato
9. II. Allegro
10. III. Recitativo, Fantasia. Moderato
11. IV. Allegretto poco mosso
Since making her Carnegie Hall debut in October 2011 as a First Prize Winner of the Alexander & Buono International Flute Competition, and, also in 2011, winning the the European Cultural Prize for Young Artists, Hungarian flutist Noémi Győri has been building a remarkable reputation as performer, teacher and musicologist. The first flutist ever to be accepted into the highly prestigious MPhil/PhD course in Performance at the Royal Academy of Music in London, she is currently studying as a fellow of the Dutch Philipp Loubser Foundation, working on her “Classical Flute and Guitar” project which has begun to produce valuable transcriptions for that duo, as reported in the pages of Flute Journal.
I had the opportunity to meet Noémi earlier this year at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where she has been appointed as Associate Tutor in Flute. We talked about her flute/guitar transcription work, but she had also recently turned aside from that project to produce this recording of music for flute and piano, for which she was reunited with fellow Hungarian pianist Katalin Csillagh, Steinway Artist, Liszt Academy of Music professor and PhD graduate, recognised internationally for both her academic and piano skills since being admitted to the Béla Bartók Conservatory at the age of twelve. Together they have produced a recording which lives up to its name of Glowing Sonorities.
This recording benefits greatly from Noémi’s approach of combining careful research with bold performance values. The three pieces chosen here include two stalwarts of the flute repertoire along with another piece that exhibit’s this artist’s skill at transcription. All have been chosen to reflect the sensibilities of the Romantic period, as the flute began to seek a new place in the concert repertoire and recover some of the immense popularity it had lost during the Classical era.
The Franck Sonata in A, originally written for the violin, also exists in versions for solo piano, cello — the only alternative version sanctioned by Franck — viola; flute; alto saxophone; tuba; organ with choir; violin and strings; violin and orchestra. It has the distinction of having been recorded by master violinists from Oistrach to Heifetz and Menuhin, and cellists such as Pierre Fournier while also being featured by Galway and Rampal. It is a big piece, requiring both large gestures and moments of tenderness, as in the popular final movement which also closes out the recording.
Győri describes the Reinecke Sonata as “. . . a true jewel of the original repertoire for flute and piano duo” exhibiting a “. . . complete palette of dazzling colours,” enabling the duo to “. . . immerse ourselves in the phraseology and musical prose that are primarily owned by these instruments. As a result, she writes, “. . . we decided to set (this piece) in the centre of our disc.” It is a programmatic piece, passionate and, in places, unworldly. Győri and Csillagh negotiate its emotional twists and turns with aplomb and sensitivity.
Opening the recording is a piece by Schubert that also reflects Romantic “eccentricities” and emotional contrasts. Originally written for the arpeggione, a stringed instrument rapidly heading for extinction as complete as that of the baryton played by Hayden’s employer at Esterházy. Subsequently performed in the form of multiple transcriptions, the piece, according to Győri, exhibits “a truly delicate language that is rooted in the Viennese classical era and which matches the characteristics of the flute perfectly.”
Glowing Sonorities would be of interest if only for its historical references, but it is much more than that. Győri and Csillagh combine accuracy of research with great skill and intensity of performance to produce a soundscape attractive to academics and innocent listeners alike. Both music scholars and flute lovers should own this recording.
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