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Dedicated to Donizetti
Giuseppe RABBONI (1800-1856)
Fantasy on Themes from Linda di Chamounix, op.48 [17:55]
Giulio BRICCIALDI (1818-1881)
Fantasy on La Figlia del Reggimento, op.27 [14:53]
Pietro TONASSI (1800-1870)
Introduction and Polonaise on Reminiscences of La Favorita [9:45]
George Alexander OSBORNE (1806-1893) and Jean-Louis TULOU (1786-1865)
Fantaisie et Variations Concertantes sur L'Elisir d'Amore [9:53]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
Flute Sonata in C (1819) [9:40]
Carl Joachim ANDERSEN (1847-1909)
Opera Transcriptions op.45 no.6 - Lucia di Lammermoor [7:36]
John CLINTON (1810-1864)
Le Delizie dell'Italia, series III no.18 - Come Gentil and La Morale in Tutto Questo from Donizetti's Don Pasquale [5:38]
Gilberto Fornito (flute)
Christopher Howell (piano)
rec. Studio l'Eremo, Lessona, Italy, 31 March, 14 April, 27 July 2012. DDD
SHEVA COLLECTION SH069 [75:59]
 
This is Gilberto Fornito and Christopher Howell's second outing together for Italian independent Sheva. The first was not entirely successful, due to a combination of lacklustre audio, confused programming and Fornito's uninspired flute-playing (see review). Two years on, Fornito and Howell are back with this tribute to Gaetano Donizetti, primarily remembered for his many operas but composer also of numerous instrumental works. Fornito and Howell build their recital around Donizetti's Flute Sonata in C.
 
Unfortunately, audio issues still haunt the pairing. The main problem is that the piano is recessed, leaving Howell sounding as if he were playing in the next room to Fornito. He too sounds set back a little, and the overall effect is of two performers in a tin shed rather than an acoustically contoured studio.
 
Of the seven works, Donizetti's is the only one that does not borrow tunes from his operas but its cheery tunefulness is as infectious as any operatic chorus he would write subsequently. Despite all the Donizetti-derived melodic 'invention', however, there are no unheralded masterworks in Fornito and Howell's programme - terms like 'pleasant' or 'mildly entertaining' pretty much cover all the bases. This is bel canto by numbers for the flute, with fairly rudimentary colouring in by the piano.
 
Sound quality aside, flautist Fornito again does not entirely convince. Whilst it is true that some of these pieces make virtuosic demands of the flautist - often serving up runs that assume the soloist has bottomless lungs - Fornito's phrasing sometimes seems ill-judged and he either all but runs out of puff or his articulation suffers. It is also fair to say that he fails to communicate any of the light-heartedness of the source music. In that regard Howell too must plead guilty. Neither performer seems to believe in these works, with the possible exception of Donizetti's Sonata.
 
Nevertheless, English-Italian booklet notes by Howell faithfully guide the listener piece by piece through the programme. Performer biographies are of the starchy Italian CV variety - dry lists of diplomas achieved, cities appeared in and professors studied under. Incidentally, the discography given for Howell does not include his recent and rather good collection of hymns for soprano and organ (review).
 
Byzantion
Collected reviews and contact at artmusicreviews.co.uk

see also review by Rob Barnett
 
Pleasant or mildly entertaining pretty much cover all the bases.


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