Alter Ego: Music for Flute and Piano by Respighi, Fauré & Franck

Alter Ego: Music for Flute and Piano by Respighi, Fauré & Franck
Composer César Auguste Franck, Gabriel Fauré, Ottorino Respighi
Artist Rebecca Taio flute
Marco Grisanti piano
Format 1 CD
Cat. number 96977
EAN code 5028421969770
Release August 2023

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About this release

Rebecca Taio’s choice to programme these well-known pieces from the great repertoire for violin and piano has to do with the technical challenges they pose, both instrumentally and interpretatively. In the flautist’s words: ‘It’s an incredibly fascinating and stimulating idea for me to try out timbres that are different to the ones I’m usually accustomed to, different to those the majority of composers who have written for the flute have been inspired by. In these transcriptions I have aimed for a more romantic and less delicate way of playing the flute, inspired by the long-drawn-out, sustained phrases and intense vibrato so characteristic of string instruments in this sort of repertoire.’

The technical challenges of transcriptions from violin to flute should not be underestimated. While it might seem as though the flute’s keys would make some aspects related to intonation ‘easier’ on the flute, there are difficulties of other kinds, such as playing loudly and with a full tone in the lower register or playing very high notes that fade away to nothing. But this was the whole point: to challenge the intrinsic identity of the instrument and to transcend its customary role. And so, by way of this repertoire, the expressive capabilities of the flute can be further explored.

While the transcription of the Five Pieces by Respighi is a first (no one having thought to arrange them for flute and piano before), the sonatas by Faureì and Franck are already a part of the chamber tradition for flute and piano. Nonetheless, the artists have made further revisions to these two works, coming up with alternative solutions to the ones normally used in such a way as to be as close as possible to the originals.

The 5 Pezzi hail from a period when Respighi was defining his style, poised between modernity and a pull towards the past. The titles he gave them are richly allusive (Romanza, Aubade, Madrigale, Berceuse, Humoresque), pointing to a range of different moods and atmospheres and imbued with that ‘Latin sweetness of idiom’ (to quote Adriano Lualdi) that is such a feature of this composer’s remarkable musical language.

Faureì’s Sonata in A major for violin and piano Op.13 (1877) offers a dazzling display of rippling arpeggios and scalar activity interspersed with passages of intensely sweet and expressive melancholy shot through with flashes of brilliance, from the opening Allegro molto right up to the heartfelt declamatory verve of the concluding Allegro quasi presto. It is an iconic piece among the works of Faureì, who was one of the key players in the revival of French instrumental music that had been set in motion in 1871 by the Socieìteì nationale de musique. The Socieìteì’s motto ‘ars gallica’ was also readily heeded by Faureì’s colleague Ceìsar Franck.
Franck’s Sonata in A major for violin and piano (1886) creates the ideal end-piece for this musical journey. A masterpiece of ‘Cartesian’ clarity and dedicated to EugeÌne Ysaÿe, the Sonata is one of the key works from Franck’s compositional maturity and is pervaded by an ‘algorithmic poetry’ in its carefully planned and grandiose architecture – underpinned by the cyclical form that lends it its unique structural power – in which a sense of calm and meditative intimacy pulsating with boundless emotion is perfectly married with a nervous restlessness propelled along by an all-pervading rhythmic impetus.

Other information:
- Recorded in October 2022 in Castrezzato (Brescia), Italy
- Bilingual booklet in English and Italian contains an introduction by the flautist and liner notes by Atillo Cantore

- This original program presents three works originally written for violin and piano in a version for flute and piano: the famous César Franck (1822-1890) Sonata in A major, the Violin Sonata Op. 13 by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) and Five Pieces by Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936).
- Flutist Rebecca Taio about the project: “I find the idea of being able to use different timbres from those one is normally accustomed to and which most of the composers who have written for flute have been inspired by incredibly fascinating and stimulating. With these transcriptions, I sought a more romantic way of playing the flute, less evanescent, with long tense and held sounds, intense vibrato, all typical characteristics of the string instruments used in this repertoire. In addition, we must not underestimate the technical aspect, for although in some respects it may seem 'easier' to play transcriptions from the violin due to a simple fact of digital technique, we are faced with other kinds of difficulties. Things that for the violin are normal, such as loud and full bass sounds or very high notes in diminuendo to nothingness, for the flute can be a challenge, but that is precisely the point, to challenge the characteristics of the instrument itself, to go beyond the role it has been assigned. It is often imagined that the flute only has the role of a singing, virtuosic, sweet and sometimes insubstantial instrument, but it can also be something else. Therefore, also thanks to and through the use of this repertoire, one can investigate the expressive potential of this instrument”.
- Rebecca Taio is a highly talented Italian flutist. She studied with Raffaele Trevisani and Patrick Gallois and participated in masterclasses by a.o. Barthold Kuijken and James Galway. Her first album for Brilliant Classics, titled “Undine” (BC 96695) received remarkable reviews in the international press. On this new recording her piano partner is the excellent Marco Grisanti.


Track list

Disk 1

  1. Ottorino Respighi: Cinque pezzi, P.62: I. Romanza
  2. Ottorino Respighi: Cinque pezzi, P.62: II. Aubade
  3. Ottorino Respighi: Cinque pezzi, P.62: III. Madrigal
  4. Ottorino Respighi: Cinque pezzi, P.62: IV. Berceuse
  5. Ottorino Respighi: Cinque pezzi, P.62: V. Humoresque
  6. Gabriel Fauré: Sonata No. 1, Op. 13: I. Allegro molto
  7. Gabriel Fauré: Sonata No. 1, Op. 13: II. Andante
  8. Gabriel Fauré: Sonata No. 1, Op. 13: III. Allegro vivo
  9. Gabriel Fauré: Sonata No. 1, Op. 13: IV. Allegro quasi presto
  10. César Auguste Franck: Sonata, FWV8, CFF 123: I. Allegretto ben moderato
  11. César Auguste Franck: Sonata, FWV8, CFF 123: II. Allegro
  12. César Auguste Franck: Sonata, FWV8, CFF 123: III. Recitativo-Fantasia
  13. César Auguste Franck: Sonata, FWV8, CFF 123: IV. Allegretto poco mosso