Jocelyn Aubrun is principal flautist of Orchestre National de Lyon, and he together with his duo-partner Aline Piboule has put together a programme of Sonatas for Flute and Piano bonded by being composed in 1943.
Of the five works, two are celebrated, those by Dutilleux and Prokofiev. The Sonatas that might be less-known include Marius Flothuis’s concise example, his Opus 17, music of seduction and (French, if Dutch) elegance, and with some delicate if sad musing in the ‘Lamento’ third movement. It’s an engaging piece, wrapped by a sparkling Finale. Also worth discovering is the Sonatine by Parisian Claude Arrieu (1903-1990, Flothuis’s dates are 1914-2001), wonderfully tuneful in the first movement, with more than a shade of Poulenc, and such charms continue throughout this evocative and pastoral piece that ends in lively if still-lyrical fashion. The Sonata by Leo Smit (1900-43, a Dutchman not to be confused with his American counterpart) also offers delights to the ear, if a more rigorous compositional style – one might say that Debussy (affecting language) meets Stravinsky (neoclassical technique), in which each note is considered and the heart of the work is the rhapsodising and expressive slow movement.
With Prokofiev’s Sonata (Opus 94, later transcribed for David Oistrakh) the stakes are raised, we come to music that entrances and exhilarates in equal measure and which haunts the memory, and these performers judge it exactly in all particulars, really impressive. The disc closes with a piece by the long-lived Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013). His single-movement Sonatine is typically fastidious, and as its mysteries unfold what becomes clear is music that has a story-telling capacity.
Throughout, Jocelyn Aubrun impresses with his musicianship and virtuosity, equally so Aline Piboule, a partnership presented in a well-balanced and vibrant-sounding recording. This “overview of a year of the flute” is very enjoyable, and some hidden gems have been unearthed, very persuasively.