Sunday, November 18, 2007

Emmanuel Pahud

Emmanuel Pahud, flute
Eric Le Sage, piano

Thursday, November 15, 8:00 pm
Herbst Theatre

REINECKE: Sonata, Undine, Op. 167
BRAHMS: Sonata No. 1 for Flute and Piano in F Minor, Op. 120, No. 1
WIDOR: Suite, Op. 34
STRAUSS: Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 18

SCHUMANN: No. 2 Lebhaft, leicht & No. 3 Rasch und mit Feuer from Fantasiestucke Op.73

I first heard Pahud at another Herbst Theatre recital a few years ago, & I was completely swept away by his playing. I felt like he could have switched to tissue paper & a comb & would still have gotten something out of it. I went around saying that he was a musician who transcended his instrument, but this really didn't explain anything. So I was really looking forward to hearing him again & starting to figure out what impressed me so much.

For the 1st half of his program I was again totally absorbed in the music. Pahud played the Reinecke with a light, fluid tone. He demonstrated incredible nuance & control at the end of the quiet movements, when his sound drifted away to silence. When he started the Brahms he had a different sound that was heavier & fuller. It was like he had returned to the stage with a different instrument.

The Widor was the virtuoso show-stopper of the evening. One of the distinctive features of Pahud's playing is his breathing. This piece has lots of extended runs & long phrases, & time & again he would pass up perfectly good opportunities to take a breath. He can keep his sound going without a break through extremely long passages with lots of notes. As a result, I was left feeling breathless!

The Strauss gave Pahud a chance to really wail on the flute, if such a thing is possible. He unleashed a lot of sound, seeming to take the flute to its dynamic limit. In other words, he can be really loud!

Obviously I think Pahud is a very special performer. He communicates so well musically, & he is so at ease. I think the flute is an awkward instrument, but he looks very comfortable on stage. He also comes across as a nice guy. Before announcing his encore he politely thanked us for our patience & kindness.

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