Bridge Across the Pyrenees

0 of 5 stars

Concierto pastoral
Fantaisie brillante sur des airs de Carmen [arr. for flute and orchestra by Giancarlo Chiaramello]
Concerto for Flute and Orchestra

Sharon Bezaly (flute)

São Paulo Symphony Orchestra
John Neschling

Recorded July 2005 at the Sala São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Reviewed by: Michael Darvell

Reviewed: January 2007
Duration: 57 minutes

Horst A. Scholz’s booklet note sets the scene by showing how the Pyrenees has divided Spain and France yet without stopping anybody from getting through. Yet, while France has always had musical supremacy over Spain, it was only nineteenth-century folk-music that revealed Spain’s true musical legacy. French composers have always held a fascination for Spain, and used it in their musical writings, witness such works as Bizet’s “Carmen”, Chabrier’s España, Debussy’s Ibéria and Ravel’s Boléro. Spanish composers on the other hand felt they had to visit Paris, the centre of musical creativity.

One such was Joaquín Rodrigo (1901-99) whose most celebrated composition is his Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra. James Galway arranged another Rodrigo guitar-work, Fantasia para un gentilhombre for the flute, and Rodrigo wrote a concerto for Galway, the Concierto pastoral, which Sharon Bezaly certainly does proud on this most attractive disc.

Difficult to pin down, rather like some of the music it represents, namely birdsong, Rodrigo’s Concierto pastoral, written in 1978, is a delightful piece that allows the flute to take the lead, letting the orchestra catch up, as the solo instrument flutters and vacillates in a charmingly lyrical way. Rodrigo obviously had the measure of the flute and its capabilities every bit as much as he did with the guitar, to which he brought a new-found eminence. Bezaly, a virtuoso to her fingertips, excels here, particularly in Rodrigo’s own cadenza for the slow movement.

Jacques Ibert’s Concerto dates from 1934 and is typical of its period. Solid as a rock, it is a straightforward concerto in the way it sets out to balance solo instrument and orchestra. If it lacks the spontaneity of the Rodrigo, it is nevertheless a bright and cheerful piece that allows Bezaly to stretch herself.

Fellow French composer but relatively unknown, François Borne (1840-1920) wrote his Fantaisie brillante sur des airs de Carmen in 1900 as a showpiece tribute to Bizet’s opera. It is arranged here for flute and orchestra by Giancarlo Chiaramello and proves to be a splendid medley of the opera’s main hit tunes melded together in robust fashion.

Again Bezaly is at her very best and this provides a suitable ‘filler’ for this very engaging album. John Neschling conducts the São Paulo musicians with great aplomb throughout and the recording is excellent.

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