First recordings of two powerful works from the pen of one of our major composers, John McCabe, who is celebrating his sixtieth birthday this year. Of Time and the River (the title is taken from Thomas Wolfe's novel) is actually the published title of McCabe's Fourth Symphony, written in 1993/4 to a commission by the BBC. The Flute Concerto was written for James Galway in 1989/90 and he gave the first performance of it in 1990 with Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra who commissioned the work. Here it is played by the outstanding young flautist Emily Beynon in her first recording for Hyperion.
"The five-movement Flute Concerto...is in part a Gaelic reverie dedicated to the composer's wife but it also embodies a response to one of those "isolated, individual tragedies which serve to sensitize us to the potential harm that man can do to his fellow." ... The composer has cited the work of the Irish singer Enya in connection with this concerto and it is certainly among the more accessible of his works: there's more clear diatonicism than rabid dissonance and plenty of quietly cathartic spiritual affirmation."
The program presented on this release is one more typically found on small labels specializing in the Baroque era than on the major and sonically sumptuous Hyperion label, but for those who enjoy the virtuoso instrumental music of the Baroque it will live up to its surroundings. Naples in the middle of the 18th century was the largest city in Italy and one of the 10 largest in the word. Then as now, Naples attracted distinguished visitors with its scenic surroundings, but it was a hot, chaotic place from which creative people departed if they could. Of the big three Neapolitan opera composers, Leonardo Leo, Leonardo Vinci, and Niccolò Jommelli, only Jommelli is represented here. It's hard to detect traces of their novel operatic styles in these flute concertos, which are nicely oriented toward solo display without losing a sense of overall balance.
American Baroque flutist Mary Oleskiewicz has established herself as a specialist in the music of Johann Joachim Quantz, not only performing it but discovering a cross-section of pieces that were hidden in various libraries. Quantz's name is ubiquitous in discussions of German musical life in the middle of the 18th century, but his actual music, almost all of it for flute, was virtually unknown until Oleskiewicz came along. The four concertos heard here are pleasant examples of the galant style, with mostly major-key slow movements that highlight the gentle sound of Oleskiewicz's wooden Baroque flutes.
Philippe Bernold, mozartien de la première heure, signe un manifeste de l'amour de Mozart pour la flûte, pour le plus grand plaisir des amateurs de la Grande Musique. Le Concerto pour flûte et harpe est une des oeuvres les plus populaires de la musique classique (plus particulièrement son deuxième mouvement). Quelque 250 ans après sa création, Philippe Bernold et Emmanuel Ceysson, invités à le jouer aux quatre coins du globe, nous livrent une version inoubliable captée par les micros de Nicolas Bartholomée. Un album qui sera sans aucun doute une référence absolue.