This current recording on a 24-carat Japanese muramatsu flute, must be sitting on a large pile of predecessors, by now possibly over 70? The other morning I was reading something from 2015, and listed were some 10 recordings, some on recorder, one arrangement for tuba! Despite the freshness, and newly minted recording status, some will already have landed upon favourite versions of these well-crafted works. Rachel Brown’s version of 2007 (Uppernote Recordings) was noteworthy, and came with a fine dissertation to boot! The impeccable dulcet tones of Claire Guimond’s version of these pieces on Analekta/Fleurs de Lys (FL 2 3080) have left their impressive mark, and this remains my absolute favourite, or at least a very high benchmark despite being from 1995.
As mentioned in this latter-mentioned recording, there’s an element of “Trompe l’oreille” (Trick of the Ear?) built into these works, which – though written for solo flute – give the impression of an echo, or second voice.
Sadly, some of these clever dynamics, and tricks of the ear, are swept aside for a more lesson-like approach as mere Solfeggi for competent flautists. The test here comes in No. 7 in D, with its Alla Francese, a most cleverly spun French ouverture, requiring the two-voice approach for effect! Oddly, I do often imagine a Japanese (hermit?) flautist reverberating through misty forests here!
The final work in G major is a mini tour de force of alternating movements, and if your ability falls short, then a bumpy ride can occur! With some push-me, pull-me turbulence… such are the clever virtuosic twists here, which some achieve better than others.
I have heard these works on flute, baroque flutes, recorder, and even bassoon, (though never tuba!) and can hear the registers and instruments that best suit, the bassoon was really rather good! Here, the lower and middle registers seem to sit comfortably, however, I found a slightly strident tone in the higher registers. That said, occasional flourishes made an impression.
I haven’t kept up with all the recordings in this expanding pile of approaches, yet this version must sit in the bottom 20 of perhaps almost 50+ ? Extrapolating from 2015, approximately ten (+ or -) a year!?, the figure could be as high as 90, and this new version – despite its expensive Japanese flute – will inevitably slip down the ratings! Benchmarks were set back in 1995!