Saturday, 25 August 2012

3rd Singapore Flute Festival / Denis Bouriakov Flute Recital

Looks like this is the weekend for flute concerts. The 3rd Singapore Flute Festival, organised by the Flute Studio and Goh Tiong Eng, was taking place at the School of the Arts. Meanwhile, local talent Jed Huang was also giving his debut solo recital at the Esplanade Recital Studio, in a totally unrelated event. Although I was not reviewing concerts in this year's Flute Festival (that honour goes to Professor Geoffrey Benjamin, who is a flautist himself), it was still a great experience to hear great flute music beautifully played,

The main draw and keynote speaker for this year's Flute Festival is the Russian-born Denis Bouriakov, now the Principal Flautist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He performed a solo recital on Friday evening (24 August 2012) and will be a soloist with the Flute Festival Orchestra on Sunday (26 August). I was not disappointed, as he is truly one of the great flautists in the world today. His beautiful tone is allied with an effortless virtuosity that is usually associated with violinists rather than wind players.    

The concert began with Bach's Double Concerto in D minor (BWV.1043), originally for two violins. Here Denis Bouriakov is joined by his Korean wife Erin. This version for two flutes sounds perfectly natural and idiomatic.

The concert also included Villa-Lobos's Jet Whistle and Demesseman's Oberon Fantasy.  

The second half began with Debussy's Prelude a l'apres midi dun faune, with its famous sinuous opening flute solo. This was followed by the concert's tour de force, Saint-Saƫns's Third Violin Concerto in its flute version. I dare say the slow movement sounds even better for the flute. Pianist Aya Sakou was also pushed to the limit, but this made for an unforgettable show of flute and piano fireworks.

Well deserved applause and cheers for Denis Bouriakov and Aya Sakou. By the way,  did you know Bouriakov also recorded Sibelius's Violin Concerto for the flute?

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