Juliette Hurel / Hélène Couvert DEBUSSY - JOLIVET - MESSIAEN - DUTILLEUX - HERSANT - DUSAPIN - TANGUY - VARESE

This is a CD only a flutist could love: It is heavy on the solo repertoire and comprised entirely of “new” music. Juliette Hurel makes obvious choices such as pairing Syrinx and Densité 21.5 as disc openers, both of which she plays well, though the latter could use a little more vehemence, more force. She also closes the disc with three solo offerings, which is a lot of flute-alone for anyone (save for other flutists) to take in a single listening. Pascal Dusapin’s I Pesci is comprised of three short and sweet movements, and Hurel plays all of them beautifully if not a little to carefully–she seems determined to make every solo sound “pretty” rather than exploring the flute’s more dramatic expressive possibilities. Only when it comes to Phillipe Hersant’s Cinq Miniatures, each of whose five movements is intended to evoke a particular kind of non-Western flute style, does she allow her tone to vary.
The three accompanied works are worth a serious listen. Dutilleux’s 1943 Sonatine is delightfully spry and fiendishly difficult, challenges that Hurel and pianist Helene Couvert attack with frothy élan. Perhaps being spurred on a little by a musical cohort draws a less dark, more focused sound from Hurel. She and Couvert make short work of Jolivet’s furious Chant de Linos but fare not so well on Messiaen’s Merle Noir, where the tone of the two players seems mismatched, as if they are working at cross-purposes. The recording is intimate and focused, allowing the flute to sound beautiful but never shrill. (Classics Today)

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