The Flautadors [Celia Ireland, Catherine Fleming, Merlin Harrison & Ian Wilson] with Leo Chadburn (all recorders)
Reviewed by: Richard Whitehouse
Reviewed: 28 September, 2014
Venue: Crown Court Church of Scotland, Russell Street, London
At home across the range of repertoire, The Flautadors here focussed on music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras in a recital encompassing the ‘Golden Age’ of the recorder.
Opening with a wistful Pavan by Richard Deering, the first half continued with two pieces by Anthony Holborne – the elegant interplay of The Fruits of Love followed by the plaintive strains of Wanton. More substantial fare was provided by Matthew Locke, his Suite in F testing the limits of the recorder consort over four movements which began with a quizzical ‘Fantazie’ and ended with a ruminative ‘Saraband’. Locke’s arguable successor in more than just theatrical terms, Henry Purcell was represented by four such pieces – the arresting ‘Curtain Tune’ from his music for Timon of Athens preceding a lively ‘Gigue’, wistful ‘Air’ and graceful ‘Dance’ from Abdelazer. Three further items by Holborne rounded off this first half: the measured tread of a Pavan proving an admirable foil to the winsome charms of The Honeysuckle then the wit of one whose title, The Choice, was more oblique than its content.
The second half comprised three rather more substantial items. Telemann’s music can often intrigue more than it satisfies, but his Concerto in G was an engrossing affair – not least for its initial Largo whose staccato marking imparted an oddly detached quality to the discourse, yet there was no lack of variety in the three strongly contrasted movements which followed. No surprise that J. S. Bach’s The Art of Fugue exists in a transcription for recorder quartet, from which the limpid four-part texture of ‘Contrapunctus IV’ and the lithe animation of the double fugue that is ‘Contrapunctus IX’ made a convincing duality. The recital closed with Vivaldi’s Concerto in C – evidently a spurious work but, at least in this arrangement by the Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet, as diverting an entity as could be wished; the restrained passion of its Largo framed by Allegro movements that brought energy and exhilaration in equal measure.
An excellent showcase, then, for this most inclusive of recorder ensembles. Good news, too, that much of this recital’s first half is to feature on The Flautadors’ disc, Cynthia’s Revels – a collection of Elizabethan consort music due for release in early 2015 on First Hand Records.