Sunday, July 10, 2011

'In Concert / Kathleen Battle, Jean-Pierre Rampal,' Sony 5136 (1993) Reissued by Arkiv Music

[In Concert / Kathleen Battle, Jean-Pierre Rampal; Sony 5316 (1993) (77 mins.)]

The African American soprano Kathleen Battle and the consummate flute player Jean-Pierre Rampal (1922-2000) recorded In Concert live in Alice Tully Hall in February 1991. The CD was originally issued in 1993, but was recently reissued by Arkiv Music, more than a decade after the death of the legendary flute player. Liner notes are included. A Gramophone review from September 1994 is quoted at the website of Arkiv Music:

“'With flute obbligato': it used to be a regular feature of concerts and recordings by the great madames of old. If their programmes had been as enterprising as this one, they would not have provoked so readily, if unwittingly, the odious term 'canary-fancier'... The bell-like purity of [Battle's] voice is delightful in itself... Her fluency and evenness, her free production of perfectly steady tone, are all admirable and none too common in the world today (but then, she is generally acknowledged to be one of the leading singers in that world). She is also highly skilled in making effective use of her naturally limited power, as, for instance, when she fills out the tone towards the end of 'Sweet Bird' or repeats the words 'can you be' in 'There's not a swain'. The enervated droop of some high sopranos is not for her, and she can turn from mere pleasantness to gaiety, as in some of the Spanish songs...

“Among the songs, Roussel's settings of Ronsard for voice and flute without accompaniment make a strong impression: fine two-part writing and perfect for the occasion. Several others are remarkably happy 'finds', including the Bird-song of Michael Head. But musical interest centres on Martinu's Flute Sonata, a marvellous work... Written in a week at Cape Cod in 1945, it has inexhaustible vitality: apparently simple (but never commonplace), and sometimes dizzyingly intricate and diverse in form and reference...”
-- Gramophone [9/1994]

1. Nel dolce dell'oblio, HWV 134 (Pensieri notturni di Filli) by George Frideric Handel
2. L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, HWV 55: Sweet bird, that shun'st the noise of folly by George Frideric Handel
3. If music be the food of love, Z 379 by Henry Purcell
4. Rule a Wife and Have a Wife, Z 587: There's not a swain by Henry Purcell
5. What can we poor females do?, Z 429 by Henry Purcell
6. Oedipus, Z 583: Music for a while by Henry Purcell
7. Une flûte invisible by Camille Saint-Saëns
8. Poèmes (2) de Ronsard, Op. 26 by Albert Roussel
9. Sonata for Flute and Piano by Bohuslav Martinu
10. Comedy of errors: Lo, here the gentle lark by Henry Bishop
11. Bird-Song by Michael Head
12. Hippolyte et Aricie: Rossignols amoureux (Nightingale aria) by Jean-Philippe Rameau
13. Canciones Clasicas Españolas: Al Amor by Fernando J. Obradors
14. Canciones Clásicas Españolas: Del cabello más sutil by Fernando J. Obradors
15. Canciones Clasicas Españolas: Chiquitita la novia by Fernando J. Obradors
16. Canciones Clásicas Españolas: La mi sola, Laureola... by Fernando J. Obradors

Comment by email:
Bill, Glad to see this back into circulation. Yes Battle was good, very good indeed even excusing dynamic limitations. The CD is actually a bit uneven. However Rampal's version of Martinu's sonata is absolutely definitive!!

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