Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Album review: Formisano plays the classics

Davide Formisano, flute and Phillip Moll, piano
Portrait
© 2015 Deutsche Grammophon

Italian flutist Davide Formisano’s latest collaboration with renowned pianist Phillip Moll, Portrait, is painted with very traditional strokes, indeed. But it is nevertheless a wonderful record of the flute’s history as a soloistic instrument.

The repertoire on Portrait is probably already all in your library: Taffanel’s Mignon Fantasie, Roussel’s Joueurs de Flûte, Gaubert’s Nocturne et Allegro Scherzando, Dutilleux Sonatine, La Merle Noir by Messiaen, and even the Romance by Saint-Saëns makes an appearance. Karl Lenski’s arrangement of Prélude à l’apres-midi d’un faun showcases some subtle variations to the way we often hear the piece, and Formisano’s own transcription of a Carmen fantasie by Pablo de Sarasate is a clever little surprise at the end. The entire album is like a Romantic-lover’s candy shop—all of your favorites are here, and they are all beautifully rendered.

And now here is my real point: after letting out a little sigh of boredom upon reading the playlist, I was utterly entranced from the first to the last note of this album. Formisano swoons and sways just the right amount—so much you begin to wonder what is coming next in Mignon, but much more introspectively in Debussy. His colors change with every need, from brilliant to cool and shimmering. His technique is, of course, impeccable—that’s the easiest thing to accomplish on a recording. But more impressively, each note has a place and a function, making every single phrase meaningful in every single piece. He and Moll move at all times as such as tight team, it is as if they share one musical brain. New colors are brought to life in the piano parts, particularly in Roussel and Debussy. Portrait is elegant music making at its best, and it could make a believer of even the most jaded new music aficionado.


Nicole Riner ©2016

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