This recording represents something of a homecoming for Juliette Bausor, principal flautist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Previously she was with the Northern Sinfonia, and additionally it is very suitable that she should co-operate with Jaime Martín who is also a flautist.
The elegant Mozart Concerto is presented in a sophisticated manner – as a convincing exposition of eighteenth-century culture and it is particularly gratifying that the soloist is not spot-lit – there is no hint of breathiness or shrillness. The recording achieves excellent balance between flute and orchestra but stereo location of upper strings is rather vague. None of this detracts from the beauty of the performance however; the silken quality of Bausor’s upper range ensures that the Adagio is given with exquisite gentility and the brief cadenza continues in the same tender vein. The cadenzas for each movement are by Rachel Brown; they are absolutely stylish. The Finale is given sufficient lilting rhythm to suggest its dance origins and also melodic grace.
The stand-alone pieces are ideal companions. The lovely Andante would surely have succeeded as a central movement to another Concerto had Mozart composed one, and the delicate pizzicato accompaniment is a delightful whim of the composer. The Rondo is an attractive bonus – cheerful and entertaining – an arrangement of a piece composed for violin but it thrives well in the transcription.
The Mozart may be considered as highly superior entertainment music to which Carl Nielsen’s Concerto is a perfect foil. It combines drama with humour and surprising moments of modernism are thrown in. The standing joke is Nielsen’s pitting of the flautist against an impolite trombonist which from time to time coarsely mocks the soloist’s melodies. The dedicatee was the distinguished Holger Gilbert-Jespersen and the joke would at once have made its mark with his companions because his playing was light and subtle – much influenced by the French style of his instructors. All flautists have the challenge of matching Gilbert-Jespersen’s superb 1954 recording for Decca conducted by another Nielsen associate, Thomas Jensen.
The success of an interpretation, assuming that accuracy in the demanding solo part provides no problem, depends greatly on characterisation. Gilbert-Jespersen and others cleverly display irritation at the trombone’s interruptions. Bausor, always suave in her treatment of melodies, interprets the moments of discomfiture less heatedly, metaphorically essaying the equivalent of raised eyebrows. The contribution of trombonist Rob O’Neill is also highly appropriate – less vulgar than usual and I particularly appreciated his approach when, five-and-a-half minutes into the final movement, after a moment of irascibility, he subsides into a very lyrical partner.
These are perceptive interpretations and despite a minor reservation about recorded sound, this is a credit to all the musicians.