French Flute Concertos

Frank Theuns transverse flute & piccolo, Les Buffardins
Accent ACC 24297
Blavet in A minor, Boismortier Affettuoso from op 17/5, Buffardin in E minor, Corrette Adagio from op 4/4, Leclair op 7/3 & Naudot op 21/3

I[/drp[ca[]t seems like a lifetime ago that I first got to know the concertos by Blavet and Buffardin via Musica Antiqua Köln’s recording with Wilbert Hazelzet in the solo role – in fact, Googling it came up with 1995 as the date, so it is not as long agao as I thought! Corrette and Boismortier also featured then, though with complete concertos rather than extracted movements as here; when the total time is less than an hour I find the “bleeding chunks” approach surprising, to say the least – the outer movements of the Corrette are summarily dismissed as “fairly weak”. Similarly puzzling is Theuns’ decision to perform the Naudot concerto on piccolo (on the recommendation of the self-same Corrette…); published as a set of concertos for hurdy gurdy (or any instrument from a long list of alternatives), two violins and continuo, the sudden displacement of the solo line up an octave was a little harsh to my ears, and the tone (and consistency of intonation) of the instrument was not that attractive either. The same cannot be said of Theuns’ fabulous flute playing – whether it being the precise definition of the semiquaver runs, or the shaping of sustained notes above the strings, he is utterly the master of his instrument, unphased by any difficulty. Les Buffardins (single strings with double bass and harpsichord) are worthy companions – perfectly balanced, they accompany with great sensitivity and relish the possibilities the ritornelli give them to add drama to the whole. Hazelzet now has company on my shelves.

Brian Clark