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British Flute Music

Release Date 1995

Catalogue No. LNT107

Music by:

Edwin York Bowen
Roberto Gerhard
Elizabeth Maconchy
George Benjamin
William Alwyn

Performed by:

Ingrid Culliford (flute)
Dominic Saunders (piano)

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Hubert Culot

York Bowen's Flute Sonata Op.120, composed in 1946, is one of several pieces in this collection composed for and first performed by Gareth Morris. It is a mature work characteristic of the composer's warmly romantic music. Its three movements are in turn tuneful, meditative and joyfully dancing. His earlier Miniature Suite of 1907 is a charming, slightly lighter, neo-classical work.

Gerhard's Capriccio for Solo Flute (1949) was also written for Gareth Morris. Stylistically speaking, it belongs to the composer's more traditional period and still incorporates some folk-like elements in a freely rhapsodic structure of great subtlety.

On the other hand, Maconchy's Colloquy, commissioned by Ingrid Culliford and completed in 1979, is a piece from her late mature years when her music became more compressed, more concise and, to a certain extent, more austere. It is a substantial piece and any composer, less modest than Maconchy, would have called it a sonata.

Flight by George Benjamin is one of his first published scores and was quickly recorded by Nimbus some years ago. It is clear that the then nineteen-year-old composer was already fully master of his trade. This is a beautifully poised piece in which Benjamin's lyricism and instrumental flair are evident from first to last. Strange though to realize that very few flautists actually picked up the piece which is still rarely heard today.


William Alwyn was trained as a flautist and, early in his career, he gave many first performances of contemporary pieces by Ravel, Roussel and Goossens, to name but a few. Though his first acknowledged piece was the Divertimento for Solo Flute (1939), he composed fairly little for his instrument. At the other end of his life, he composed a Concerto for Flute and Wind Octet. The Flute Sonata of 1948, also written for Gareth Morris, is a short work of some substance. Its single movement clearly falls into three sections. It still has some Neo-classical characteristics such as the fugue in the 'Allegro ritmico e feroce'. At the time this recording was made, the sonata had not been heard since the late 1940s. In the meantime, a more recent recording was made by Chandos as part of their Alwyn cycle some years ago (Chandos CHAN 9197).

This well-played, well-planned and varied cross-selection of British flute music is well worth having. Good too that this release, as well as other Lorelt recordings, are available again.


'British Flute Music'. Hmm... And post-Second-World-War repertoire. You could be tempted to move on swiftly. Don't! It's high time these six beguiling works by George Benjamin, William Alwyn, York Bowen, Elizabeth Maconchy and Roberto Gerhard are recognised on an equal footing with the popular French pieces which so often monopolise CDs and concert programmes of 20th-century flute repertoire.

Culliford is an impassioned flautist whose interpretations here are spot on. The expansive, climactic phrases and flashy passages of York Bowen's Sonata, and the haunting atmosphere created by chromatic configurations in Alwyn's are superbly executed. Benjamin's Flight must surely be seen as the successor to Debussy's Syrinx. It displays fully the flute's compatibility with freedom and fantasy. It's virtuosic by nature, but begins and ends with mellow, low-register glissandi.




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