Among the young British instrumentalists vying to pick up the mantles of the great soloists of a generation ago, flutist Katherine Bryan seems among the most promising, and she takes a major step forward with this, her second release. Her startlingly clear, bright articulation in the upper register is pleasing on its own, yet the real attraction here is that she approaches a repertory intelligently and brings fresh perspectives to it. The Flute Concerto (1993) of Christopher Rouse only seems to be the odd item in the set; Rouse's instrumental writing, with its intricate grasp of texture and register, is truly a descendant of the French (and French-Swiss) music on the rest of the album, and it was an inspired choice in terms of showcasing Bryan's technique as well. The three central movements have a memorial tone, with flute solos woven into Rouse's characteristically spacious chords, and Bryan has the stamina to stick with the long line here. Ibert's delightful Concerto for flute and orchestra (1934) receives an absolutely crackling performance from Bryan.
According to Christopher Hogwood, in his marvelous biography of Handel, "In the winter of that year , Handel received what was for him an unusual commission. Although closely associated with the London theatre, he wrote very little incidental music for plays. A request from John Rich to provide airs and dances for Smollett's 'Alceste' was undertaken, according to Hawkins, in repayment of a debt to Rich."
Alun Francis is one of the most respected conductors on the international scene, and is particularly admired for his efforts in bringing international recognition to several great tonal symphonists active in the post-World War II years, and for other efforts on behalf of 20th century music. His "native" instrument is the French horn. He continued his studies on that instrument and took conducting while attending the Royal Manchester College of Music from 1960 to 1963.