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Schulhoff & Schoenberg - Flute Chamber Works

Schoenberg/Greissle : Sonata after the Wind Quintet, Op. 26
Schulhoff: Sonata for Flute and Piano
Schulhoff: Concertino for flute/piccolo, viola & double bass

Fenwick Smith (flute) Sally Pinkas & Randall Hodkinson (piano) Mark Ludwig (viola) Edwin Barker (double bass)

Chandos - CHAN10515

Here is a delightful doubly unique disc by the onetime principal of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, recorded in 1982 and 1992, and belatedly seeing the light of day in this compilation. The programme is of rarities and I doubt if there exists another trio for flute, viola & double bass?

The Schoenberg transcription was made in close collaboration with the composer, giving "a welcome clarity and transparency" to dense contrapuntal lines "which can become a liability in the original wind quintet version"; I might have agreed with that before reviewing Robert Craft's recording: - - dauntingly complex when first encountered in my youth, and infrequently heard ever since - "My music is not modern, it is merely badly played" Arnold had said. As given here by the virtuosi of the New York Woodwind Quintet it is scintillating and, despite its 38 minutes, might gain more friends if it were renamed Divertimento. I love it, and have played this account through several times with undiminished delight - - "

The Schulhoff works are easily accessible delights, the sonata of 1927 unpretentious yet unpredictable too, eschewing "any hint of grandiosity" with signalling of incipient endings; his movements "run their course until time is up and go straight to the double-bar" [Fenwick Smith's illuminating comments]. The concertino would be a splendid piece to bring together members of different departments in a conservatory, a sure-fire hit.

Presentation is fine in support of these excellent performances and recording of them. A recommendable novelty to add to Fenwick Smith's "adventuresome discography".

Peter Grahame Woolf