Since the end of the seventeenth century French composers have shown a particular skill and deftness of touch in writing for the flute. The instrument owes much of its prominence in French music of the twentieth century to the use made of it in orchestral colouring by composers such as Debussy and Ravel, as well as to a group of highly gifted players associated in one way or another with the Paris Conservatoire. They include the soloist on this recording, Patrick Gallois, a pupil of Jean-Pierre Rampal. This collection of works composed during the last sixty years ranges from Poulenc’s Sonata, marked by rhythmic vitality and a delicate vein of sentimentality, Messiaen’s Le merle noir, inspired by bird song, to Boulez’s Sonatine, which the composer himself has characterised as ‘organised delirium’.
Madame d'amours is an enchanting and pleasingly varied collection of pieces performed for flute consort by The Attaignant Consort. The Consort was founded in 1998 by four graduates (from Australia, France, the Netherlands and Italy) of the Royal Conservatorium in The Hague. Having studied historical flute performance practice under Barthold Kuijken and/or Wilbert Hazelzet, these experts (they also work with such renowned groups as Les Musiciens du Louvre, Freiburger Barockorchester and Musica Antiqua Köln – amongst others) also pursue their passion for the sound world of the Renaissance flute in collaboration with Italian flute maker, Giovanni Tardino. The premise of all concerned is that such consort music aspired to a closeness to the patterns and intonations of the human voice. This was (and is, here) achieved by careful attention to instrumental articulation, expressiveness and dynamic shading.
Jean-Pierre Rampal is often considered the greatest flutist of the modern era. In addition to his exceptional talent, he raised the flute to unprecedented solo status, popularizing the flute literature, the flute recital and flute recordings. The rediscovery of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic repertoire for the flute is one of his outstanding achievements, as well as his numerous collaborations with composers; over 100 works have been written for and premiered by him. He recorded for Erato from the mid-1950s, with many discs receiving awards internationally.
After the death of Janáček in 1924, Martinů assumed the mantle of the leading Czech composer of the twentieth century. The chamber music on this disc abounds with the mosaic-like patterns, translucent lyricism and infectious rhythmic vitality which give his works their kaleidoscopic quality. From the highly original Sextet of 1929, with its jazzy Parisian character, to the Flute Sonata of 1945, in which the much-travelled composer imitates the song of the whippoorwill, an indigenous bird of New England, this disc surveys a quarter-century of Martinů’s prolific and always inventive output.