Juliette Hurel / Hélène Couvert À L'AUBE DU ROMANTISME

Juliette Hurel's 2013 album on Naïve explores pieces for flute and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert, evoking the period between Classicism and early Romanticism. Perhaps the subtlest work of the program is Beethoven's Flute Sonata in B flat major, WoO A4, written in 1790 and fashioned under the influence of Haydn. Its sunny disposition and light textures are periodically interrupted by unexpected key changes and sudden digressions into the minor, characteristics that anticipate Beethoven's later development and mark it as a transitional work. His Serenade for flute and piano, Op. 41, is an arrangement of the Serenade for flute, violin, and viola, Op. 25, and it has a similar, if sometimes deceptive, air of Classical simplicity, which is all the more apparent because of the brevity of the movements. Only Schubert's Variations on a Theme from Die schöne Müllerin is unequivocally Romantic, and its sudden changes of mood and key make it the most fascinating piece on the disc. Hurel and her accompanist Hélène Couvert play with grace and refinement, and their performances display expressive flexibility and technical control, particularly by balancing the poise and cheerfulness of the Beethoven pieces with the melancholy mood and volatility of Schubert's variations. Naïve's reproduction is clear and bright, with considerable presence. (

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