PHILIPPE GAUBERT: ON A CLEAR MORNINGMusic for Flute and Piano
Claude Debussy, Philippe Gaubert
IMMANUEL DAVIS, flute
Performed On French Period Instruments
“Immanuel Davis and Timothy Lovelace have chosen to use French-style period instruments for this recording, and it is noticeable. The Louis Lot flute from around 1865 has a lighter and more delicate sound to it… the impressionistic textures of the piano writing find their greatest contrast in the Erard piano that Mr. Lovelace uses … I found the timbres quite alluring and both players perform with an enriching sense of stylistic fidelity.”
[ * * * ½ ] Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [July 2013]
“this is a fine, well-played collection, competitive, though with a caveat: the musicians perform on period instruments. Immanuel Davis, plays a Louis Lot made circa 1865, the same type used by Gaubert himself. Sometimes called 'the Stradivarius of flutes, it has the light, silvery tone that facilitated the effects preferred by Gaubert's teacher Paul Taffanel, principal founder of the French school of playing… most [listeners] will be struck by the piano's unusual sound. Timothy Lovelace is playing an Erard made in 1899. It sounds strange to modern ears because it has a shorter decay than the more sonorous Steinways of most Gaubert recordings… The Erard has the advantage of a sound closer to that of a harp, and so this is what it does for texture in a piece for flute, piano and cello… The only non-Gaubert work is Syrinx… it is good to have a recording with the instrument Debussy probably had in mind. It is perhaps a touch more ethereal and mysterious than usual… This release combines attractive romantic melodies with the performance challenges one would expect from Gaubert, a master of the flute. Davis delights in the former and easily surmounts the latter; Lovelace and Käthe Jarka are appropriately supportive or assertive as the music requires… Those already familiar with these works may be intrigued by the idea of performances on period instruments. For others, this is a fine introduction to Gaubert if they can accept the Erard sound.”
Ron Bierman, Music & Vision [February 2012]
"What marks out Davis' collection is that he plays an original Louis Lot instrument... the flute has a crisp, airy lightness. This is music of great charm and it's lovingly played."
International Record Review [December 2011]
"both the flute and piano present a more soft-grained and less brilliant sound than one typically encounters nowadays, and Davis also plays with minimal vibrato, giving Gaubert’s music a particularly sinuous feel. These are first-rate performances, and pianist Timothy Lovelace and cellist Käthe Jarka are fully worthy and accomplished partners. The recorded sound captures all three ideally… anyone content with one CD of Gaubert to start can begin here."
James A. Altena, Fanfare [November/December 2011]
"This disc offers a sample of his pieces performed on official instruments of the Paris Conservatory. Although the differences won’t jump out at you, these instruments suit the music in subtle ways. I was immediately struck by the clarity and voicing of the piano part. The liner notes point out that Erard made both pianos and harps, and the rapid, harp-like decay of their pianos contrasts with the long decay of a modern Steinway... [Davis' playing on a Louis Lot flute] epitomizes French style. Flexibility is the key word that comes to my mind, along with an effortlessness and accuracy that I think were central to Gaubert’s own playing. Davis navigates the instrument’s various registers with ease and excellent intonation and control... The instruments are picked up closely, in a way that is direct and not resonant, so the overall sound is more raw and honest than produced. The intention was surely to present the instruments with clarity and to preserve the clarity of the music. It makes for very pleasant listening, and the flute and cello are splendid together. Mr Lovelace knows just when to push forth and hold back, both in loudness and in tempo... this is a worthwhile and welcome addition to the Gaubert discography."
Gorman, American Record Guide [September/October 2011]
PROGRAM NOTESNational differences in performance style have existed for centuries. Even the instruments themselves varied from country to country and from generation to generation. For a flutist, one only needs to try playing a “Hotteterre” style French flute from c.1700 and compare it to a Quantz flute of the 1750’s to see how different the instruments were. Yet, they were both ideal for the particular repertoire of their time. The Quantz flute, with its big and sonorous tone, makes playing delicate French ornaments difficult, just as one wouldn’t want to try to navigate the virtuosic and chromatic passages of a C.P.E. Bach sonata on the French flute.
While these national styles were probably most prevalent during the 18th and 19th centuries, they definitely carried into the early and mid-twentieth century. Debussy and Ravel preferred the sound of the Erard piano, while in Germany and the United States the Steinway was the piano of choice. In Germany and England, wood flutes were more common than the silver French style flutes. (Wagner didn’t like Boehm’s silver flutes – he thought they couldn’t play softly enough! “Those are not flutes, they are cannons!” he said when metal flutes first appeared in Bayreuth.)
Throughout the 20th century, perhaps due to the overwhelming availability of recordings and the ease of global travel, all the styles have begun to blend and the individual nationalistic styles (and instruments) have become more international. Jean-Pierre Rampal, probably the last great flutist trained in the “French School” of flute playing, said that there is no longer a French Flute Style, but rather an International Style differentiated only by good and bad playing.
While it may be true that the overall standards of playing have improved, it is certainly possible to say that a kind of individuality is lost due to the internationalization of instruments and playing styles. Today, almost everyone the world over plays a Steinway piano or a Cooper-style flute. The point is not that these instruments are bad, but that the mass-market approach to instrument making has both its pros and cons. Anyone can have an affordable high-quality instrument, but these instruments no longer speak with such a clear individual voice.
Flutist Immanuel Davis is a highly versatile performer who enjoys performing a wide range of repertoire, from the baroque to the contemporary. He has performed as a recitalist and master class teacher worldwide, including in Tokyo and at Gloppen Musikkfest in Sandane, Norway, where he was also principal flutist for the festival orchestra. He has appeared as a recitalist and chamber musician at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, MoMa’s Summer Garden Series, Noonday Concerts at Trinity Church, and the Meet the Virtuoso series at the 92nd St Y. Orchestral work has included performances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, Riverside Symphony, Hudson Valley Philharmonic, Jupiter Symphony and Buffalo Philharmonic. Mr. Davis has also played on Broadway in Fiddler on the Roof, Show Boat and Ragtime, among others. Immanuel released his first CD, Prevailing Winds in December of 2003.
In 2005, Davis was a recipient of a Fulbright Grant for study of baroque flute and performance practice with Wilbert Hazelzet at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague. Since then he has performed as a baroque flutist with early music ensembles ARTEK and Midtown Concerts in New York, The Bach Society and Lyra Baroque in Minnesota, and in recital with Barthold Kuijken.
Increasingly in demand as a teacher, he has been invited to teach classes at Yale University, New England Conservatory, Grinnell College, the North Carolina School of the Arts and Seattle Pacific University. His work as a teacher has also extended beyond flutists since he has made multiple trips to Mexico, where he has served as woodwind clinician for the Guanajuato Symphony Orchestra. He has also given several classes for the U.S. Air Force Bands in Sacramento and Colorado Springs, and has performed and given clinics for the National Flute Convention.
Educated at the Juilliard School, Mr. Davis received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees as a student of Julius Baker. He has studied with Keith Underwood, Ransom Wilson, Sandra Miller, and with Philip Dunigan at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Immanuel Davis has been the flute professor at the University of Minnesota since 2001.
PROGRAMPhilippe GAUBERT (1879-1941)
TROISIÈME SONATE (1934)
II. Intermède pastoral
TROIS AQUARELLES (1915)
Par un clair matin
SONATE IN A MAJOR (1917)
III. Allegro moderato
NOCTURNE ET ALLEGRO SCHERZANDO (1906)
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)