Vocalise - Music for flute & piano / Adam Walker, flute


A program of transcriptions and original works for flute and piano, Vocalise highlights the brilliant artistry of flautist Adam Walker on a new release from Opus Arte. The human voice in song is the inspiration for the selection of music on Vocalise. Three of the six works were conceived for flute and piano: Francis Poulenc's fanciful and charming Flute Sonata, Samuel Barber's melancholy Canzone, Op. 38a and Franz Schubert's Introduction and Variations on 'Trockne Blumen' from Die schöne Müllerin. The remaining three pieces by Messiaen, Bartók and another by Poulenc, are all in some way inspired by song.

In the album notes, Mr. Walker, while admitting a likely bias, expresses his feeling that the flute is the instrument most like the human singing voice. The lyrical musicality and sincere expression of his playing is certainly convincing. You can hear Adam Walker's singing tone in the sample I've provided, in its entirety, of Barber's plaintive Canzone, Op. 38a. If you recognize this (and didn't know you knew it), it may be because Barber repurposed the main theme of the Canzone for the slow movement of his Piano Concerto, and later made a version of it for violin and piano.

Adam Walker was appointed principle flute of the London Symphony Orchestra in 2009 at the age of 21, and his playing should not be missed by anyone who appreciates great musicianship. Joining Mr. Walker for this recital is James Baillieu, a young pianist who has become best known for his work as an accompanist. I should note that this is the first release from Opus Arte - a company best known for operatic productions on video and solo vocal recitals - that does not have any singers involved. There's a little irony to the fact that the release is Vocalise. In sum, this is a very enjoyable program, more than an hour of wonderful music, beautifully played, that goes by all too quickly.