BUCOLIQUES - Richard Sherman

BUCOLIQUES - French Album III - Richard Sherman (Flute) - Minsoo Sohn (Piano) - 888295343381 - Released: January 2016 - Blue Griffin BGR379

1} Gabriel Grovlez: Romance
2} Gabriel Grovlez: Scherzo
3} Claude Debussy: Printemps
4} Raymond Gallois Montbrun: Six Pièces Musicales d'Etude
5} Louis Durey: Sonatine
6} Alfred Desenclos: Bucoliques

Having heard a wonderful Trumpet Concerto by composer Alfred Desenclos (reviewed here), I was pleasantly surprised to receive this new CD on the Blue Griffin Recordings label featuring works for flute and piano by French composers including Desenclos, an unjustly overlooked composer focused on writing music mostly for wind instruments. For me the stand out piece on this CD is the three-movement Bucoliques by Desenclos, nestled within a group of similar works by various French composers whose combined lifespans stretch from 1862 to 1994, a very fruitful period within the history of music.

One of the strong points of this collection is that all of the pieces, as varied as they are, all seem to share the same emotive state of mind, and all seem to project a certain degree of fantasy. Nothing steps out of context or jolts the listener out of the mood established at the start. Even the studious Six Pièces Musicales d'Etude, meant to discipline and fortify a musician's technique, is written in such a way that when executed brilliantly like it is here by flutist Richard Sherman, hides the fact that it's running the musician through a wringer. Both the flute and piano parts of this work are technically challenging, but both Sherman and pianist Minsoo Sohn sail through its choppy waters and reinforce its musical qualities. As a matter of fact, all the way through this program, Minsoo Sohn not only supports, but also enriches the music with constantly involved playing. Usually, in collections showcasing a specific instrument like this one, the accompanist tends to fade into the background, but in this instance the pianist actually adds to the overall mood and feel of each and every piece.

All the composers on this disc, except for Debussy, are not well represented by recordings, so it's nice to see them all grouped together here in this collection, and to hear them played so well. The dynamic energy and expressive touches with which Richard Sherman commands the flute, quite simply translates into this music coming to life again for our listening pleasure.

Jean-Yves Duperron - March 2016