Sharon Bezaly: Flute Concertos by Khachaturian and Rautavaara

By Barbara Siesel

Sharon Bezaly performs these two concertos with the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra in an exciting CD with virtuosic performances by Bezaly and the orchestra. I’ve been well aware of the Khachaturian Concerto as it has become a part of our flute repertoire of 20th century concertos, but the Rautavaara is new to me so I was very interested in hearing Bezaly play this piece. And it is a terrific exciting piece!!

A bit about Rautavaara- he was born in 1928 in Finland into a family of musicians and was awarded a scholarship to Juilliard and Tanglewood working with Aaron Copland, Roger Sessions and influenced by a Stravinskian neo- Classicisism.  In 1952 dissatisfied with his education he returned to Finland. He adapted serialism but by the 1970’s when he wrote the concerto, he had adapted a somewhat neo-romantic approach, which is obvious in the piece. The work was commissioned by Gunilla and Robert von Bahr and premiered with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Originally the concerto was written for piccolo, flute, alto flute and bass flute but was eventually revised with the bass flute parts transcribed for alto flute so that more flutists could perform it. On the CD both versions are presented.  It is in 4 movements: 1. Andantino, II. Vivace, III. Andante moderato, IV. Allegro. Ms Bezaly plays these works with incredible energy, brilliant technique, beautiful sound and musical insight, and she shows excellent mastery on all the flutes. The Sao Paolo Symphony Orchestra conducted by Enrique Diemecke plays with subtlety and support never overpowering the flute, and the album is very well recorded and mastered by BIS.

A few words about the flutist if you don’t know about her: Born in Israel, she lives in Sweden and is a busy concerto soloist appearing with orchestras such as the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and Cincinnati Symphony among others. She gave the US premiere of Jose Serebrier’s Flute Concerto at Carnegie Hall. She was chosen as instrumentalist of the year by Klassik Echo in Germany and as “Young Artist of the Year” at the Cannes Classical Awards in 2003 and has commissioned over 17 new flute concerto’s including works by Zhou Long and Sofia Gubaidulina.  I think you will really enjoy this album as it’s exciting, interesting, and serious as well.

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