My heart skipped a proverbial beat yesterday when a shipment arrived from Reference Recordings. A flute recital, recorded by the great Keith Johnson on the premiere audiophile label, Reference Recordings. And, not a mere mortal flutist, but the self-anointed ‘Flute Queen’, as used by Viviana Guzmán for her Twitter ‘handle’. I hurriedly opened the CD and placed the Reference in the reference system.
My smile and excitement were dulled somewhat when looking at the repertoire on the press sheet as the CD tray was disappearing into the body of the player. You will not find a more soporific, unadventurous program. Flute and guitar arrangements of popular tracks by Satie, Fauré, and Ravel. But wait, a few names hitherto unknown to me, Dyens and Ourkouzounov. Some unknown gems amongst the muzak?
No such luck. This new release is a disappointment on all fronts. First, Guzmán’s playing. My mental notes (interpolated by head shaking and jaw drops) suggested it was rhythmically slack and quite unmusical. Her difficulty with the instrument continues with breath support and intonation, basic fundamentals good teachers focus on with dedicated students. Guzmán’s vibrato becomes irritating as it colours tones that need none — a little like spicing the spices. I wanted a few ‘non flutist’ ears to have a listen as my flabber continued to be gasted! They came to similar conclusions.
The guitar of Jérémy Jouve is solid and at least rhythmic. His arrangements would work as background music in the finest elevators and malls. Prof. Johnson’s recording is fine and is sourced from Skywalker Sound studios.
As for the ‘Sonatine homage a Theodosii Spassov’ by Atanas Ourkouzounov and the ‘Traveling Sonata’ by Roland Dyens, both suffer from a lack of charm, melody and an overabundance of simple syncopations.
Guzmán (also a dancer and poet, says her website) suggests that ‘Sharing is Sexy’, at least where social media is concerned.
Not in this case.
Playing time: 60:54