Antonio Vivaldi Concerti for Piccolo
This CD begins with the 3 well-known concerti by Vivaldi often played on the piccolo - C major RV 444, A minor RV 445 and C major RV 443. These are followed by 3 concerti more often played on flute - A minor RV 108, the concerto for 2 piccolos (or flutes) in C major RV 533 and the C minor RV 441.
These flute concerti sound wonderful on the piccolo and Jean-Louis Beaumadier succeeds in making us believe they were originally written for the instrument. The 3 so-called piccolo concerti were not written for the piccolo either, but for the sopranino recorder, and I for one I have no problem playing practically anything on the piccolo so long as it sounds good!
This is a very interesting set of older recordings, also featuring the Orchestre National de France directed by Jean-Pierre Rampal , with Philippe Pierlot on the 2nd piccolo. The recording quality is excellent and has the mellow sound I remember from the 70s - mellow and sweet, with none of the “too-much-information” qualities sometimes found in the latest recordings.
The 2 concerti I know least well were of particular interest. The C major for 2 piccolos or flutes is technically less demanding than the solo pieces, charming and joyful, and I have used it with students for an alternate duo concerto addition to our rather small repertoire which includes the Cimarosa and not much else. I was previously unfamiliar with the delightful A minor RV 533 which also seems to me to be suitable for the less technically advanced player with a very sweet slow movement and a gigue to finish rather than 2 pages more of semi-quavers.
The playing is, as always, perfect and this is an excellent reference for those wanting to have a collection of the 3 well-known Vivaldi piccolo concerti to assist with orchestral audition preparation. The other 3 works are an extra treat to enjoy.
Jean-Louis Beaumadier & Friends
The title of this lovely collection describes the character of the pieces heard on this new CD performed by Jean-Louis Beaumadier and friends. The friends play piano, other flutes, cor anglais, percussion and strings.
Whenever I am considering playing a transcription on piccolo I immediately feel comfortable with a title with the word Pastoral in it. Some of the loveliest qualities of the piccolo include it’s abilty to sound like a wooden folk instrument (such as a shepherd’s pipe), to imitate bird song and to sound musically naive. Many of the 17 plus pieces chosen for this CD showcase these qualities, along with much virtuosity, both technical and otherwise. Beaumadier uses the entire range of the instrument in a fearless and thrilling way, and this is especially impressive to the ears of one who knows how difficult it is to play those notes so sweetly and well in tune!
Composers represented include Poulenc, Honegger, Casella Tomasi Milhaud, Ibert, Gaubert and Tailleferre. All the pieces are lovely and despite the title, there is plenty of variety in character and tempo. Highlights for me are Gaubert’s Andante Pastorale (Gaubert is one the best composers for the flute!), Pastorale by Germaine Tailleferre (I have owned a copy of this music for years and it’s great to hear it at last) and the fascinating Le Tombeau de Mireille by Tomasi featuring the tambourin provencal (a unique sounding percussion instrument).
Lots of ideas for new repertoire in this CD and lots of inspiration to search for pieces in the same vein. Beautiful and skilful playing as always.