Over a century of captivating French music for the flute, from Mélanie Bonis (1858-1937) to Élise Bertrand (b.2000), including a premiere on disc.
From the shepherds-pipe dances of Lully to the pan-flute of Debussy’s faun and beyond, French music has always had a special affinity with the flute. Anna Wierer explores some lesser-known byways of this rich repertoire with her new album, which promises ‘Révélations’ galore. She begins with Lili Boulanger’s evocation of a spring morning, as full of new life as a field of young lambs. Among her contemporaries was Pierre Camus, a student of Fauré: his Chanson et Badinerie presents a pair of contrasting miniatures characteristic of late French Romanticism; the first melancholic and songful, the second lively and of sweeping lightness.
The most extended work here is the four-movement Sonata by Mélanie Bonis, known in her time as the androgynous Mel so that her music would not be judged as inferior to a man’s: and indeed the sumptuous modal-oriental harmonies and idiomatic writing for both instruments place it in the front rank of French flute sonatas. A century on, Bonis’s music has belatedly won a place in the modern repertoire – by contrast, Élise Bertrand is at the beginning of a promising career. She composed her Impressions Liturgiques Op.2 at the age of 15, inspired by Maurice Duruflé's Requiem.
Dating from 1946, Pierre Sancan’s Sonatine floats in on the breeze as a piece of postwar escapism, as light and sensuous as the creation of a master patissier. Finally, Anna Wierer and Alina Pronina turn to the more complex world of André Jolivet, whose Chant de Linos (1944) shares a theme of antiquity with Debussy’s Prelude but explores a darker, more troubled landscape over the course of its ten eventful minutes.
This is the second Brilliant Classics album from the well-established duo of Anna Wierer and Alina Pronina, following on the success of their debut release in 2021, of flute music by the Ukrainian composer Dmitri Tchesnokov. Anna Wierer is the director of the BellClassic Music Academy and the Klangfabrik Music School in Berlin; Kyiv-born Alina Pronina likewise has settled in Berlin, but the duo has given concerts together across Germany and farther afield.
- An original and attractive program of seldom heard works for flute and piano by 20-th century French composers.
- Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) was the first woman to win the coveted Grand Prix de Rome in the competition's 110-year history in 1913. Her work D'un matin de printemps, completed shortly before her death at the age of 24, exudes youthful freshness and joie de vivre through pulsating rhythms and impressionistic dissonances.
- Pierre Camus (1885-1948) was a composer, conductor and pedagogue who studied with Gabriel Fauré. Chanson et Badinerie are two contrasting miniatures characteristic of late French Romanticism; the first melancholic and songful, the second lively and of sweeping lightness.
- Mélanie Bonis (1858-1937) was a student of César Franck and in the same class with Claude Debussy at the Paris Conservatoire. The substantial Flute Sonata is marked by daring modulations, rich harmonies, and modal to oriental-inspired melodies.
- Élise Bertrand (b.2000) is an up-and-coming French composer as well as concertizing violinist and pianist. Inspired by Maurice Duruflé's Requiem, she composed her Impressions Liturgiques Op.2 for flute and piano at the age of 15, impressive for their tonal transparency and clarity, as well as their complex harmonies, rhythms, and polytonality.
- Pierre Sancan (1916-2008) was born in Mazamet, France, studied at the Paris Conservatoire and became a distinguished pianist, composer, conductor and pedagogue. His Sonatina for Flute and Piano (1946) is a work marked by virtuosity, elegance, and harmonic opulence, enriched with alternating solo cadenzas.
- André Jolivet (1905-1974) was inspired by his teacher Edgard Varèse as well as by Arnold Schoenberg. Along with Olivier Messiaen, he was one of the representatives of the French avant-garde. Chant de Linos (1944), has an extremely complex tonal and rhythmic structure and draws its poetic inspiration from Greek mythology.
- Anna Wierer (flute) was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia. She was a prize-winner of the International Friedrich-Kuhlau Flute Competition and the International Rimsky-Korsakov Competition in St. Petersburg. Anna gained further experience in master classes by Aurèle Nicolet. Alina Pronina (piano) was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and received her first piano lessons at the age of five. From 1997 to 2000 she studied at the R. Gliere Conservatory in Kiev and attended master classes with Dina Joffe, Norma Fischer, Bernd Goetzke and Lazar Berman.