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CD Feature/ Philippe Gaubert: "Complete Works for Flute 3"

img  Tobias

The advantage of musical treaures - when compared to those burried by Pirates - is that you don’t always need to dig all that deep to find them. Philippe Gaubert was not some faraway medeaval sidenote, but rather a star of the 1920s and 30s, a prodigy as well as a master of the flute and a co-publisher of the famous “Methode de Flute”. Quite a few pieces have been written especially for him and with his magic technique in mind, which could well be the reason why he has mainly gone down into history as a tremendously succesful performer. Above all, however, Gaubert was as a composer of irrestible melodic inventiveness, as this absolutely priceless series on Naxos proves.

While Volume 1 of the “Complete Works for Flute” explored trios, which saw the core-duo of Sally Pinkas on Piano and Fenwick Smith on Flute joined by different instruments and even Soprano Jayne West, “Volume 2” presented Gaubert’s three Flute Sonatas, some of the few pieces which have actually made it into current concert halls. This, the third installment, now turns towards the true core of his repertoire: The small form on the one hand and his transcriptions of great melodies of well-known colleagues on the other. The latter turn compositions by Chopin, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Handel and Schumann into glimmering gems of around two minutes, with a somewhat longer extract from Gluck’s “Orfeo” as a slowly-smouldering and strangely seductive summit. But despite their indisputable splendour of these classics, Gaubert’s own pieces effortlessly stand the test of direct comparison with the masters of the past. Weightless and of almost asian purity, they glide by, leaving gentle ripples on the water - it is by no means a coincidence that one track is entitled "Sur L'eau". The instruments engage in a wordless embrace, entangled in a metaphorical dialogue – the breath of the flute is the soul of the music, the harmonies of the piano are its physical shape and outline. Like a romantic session of autogenous training, nothing’s too hard or too heavy, each note is light, playful and happy. Hardly has it been so true as to not make it sound cheesy: This is the sound of pure love.

Contrary to what one might expect, these compiled miracles are both an escape route into peaceful territory and a harmonious background to a lively conversation. Which might well mean that “Complete Works for Flute 3” could do for Gaubert what Norah Jones did for Jazz – redirect the spotlight and provide an album which fits every occasion. Let’s hope this is not the final treaure chest of his musical legacy.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Naxos Records

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