thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded
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Cesar FRANCK (1822-90)
Sonata in A for violin and piano (1886, transcr. flute and piano, J-P Rampal) [27:09] Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1914)
Sonata No. 1 in A for violin and piano (1877, transcr. flute and piano, S Bezaly) [24:01] Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Sonata in D for flute and piano (1943) [22:42]
Sharon Bezaly (flute)
Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)
rec. 2016, Potton Hall, Westleton, Suffolk BIS BIS2259 SACD [75:06]
All three of the sonatas on this disc exist in versions for both flute and violin soloists. The Prokofiev sonata, written originally for the flute, was subsequently transcribed for violin by David Oistrakh to provide the music with what he described as a “more powerful voice”. In fact that “violin sonata”, now described as No. 2, has been recorded more often that the original flute score. The Franck violin sonata has been transcribed for many other instruments, most notably the cello, but this version for flute was written by Jean-Pierre Rampal (presumably in the 1960s, although the date is not given in the booklet and I have not been able to confirm this). The Fauré sonata has been transcribed by Sharon Bezaly herself, and here has received its first recording in the flute version.
The violin is, as Oistrakh observed, a more powerful instrument than the flute, but all three of the works on this disc work well when played on the more reticent woodwind instrument. And all three are exceptionally well played here by Sharon Bezaly, with Ashkenazy providing firm impact in his accompaniment, a superb recording in the sympathetic acoustic of Potton Hall, and excellent booklet notes by Jean-Pascal Vachon. Those who would like to hear these sonatas, all of them more familiar in their violin form, played on the flute could not hope to encounter anything better.
Alternative readings of the Franck sonata on flute are to be found in the catalogues, including ones by James Galway and by Rampal himself, and of course there are multiple choices for the original version of the Prokofiev sonata. There are, hovwever, no other recordings of Bezaly’s own flute arrangement of the Fauré, and as such this CD is hors concours. It makes for a most satisfying listening experience, with many points of illumination and enlightenment.
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