Since the end of the seventeenth century French composers have shown a particular skill and deftness of touch in writing for the flute. The instrument owes much of its prominence in French music of the twentieth century to the use made of it in orchestral colouring by composers such as Debussy and Ravel, as well as to a group of highly gifted players associated in one way or another with the Paris Conservatoire. They include the soloist on this recording, Patrick Gallois, a pupil of Jean-Pierre Rampal. This collection of works composed during the last sixty years ranges from Poulenc’s Sonata, marked by rhythmic vitality and a delicate vein of sentimentality, Messiaen’s Le merle noir, inspired by bird song, to Boulez’s Sonatine, which the composer himself has characterised as ‘organised delirium’.
In 2000 the contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux became the first Canadian to win the First Prize as well as the Special Prize for Lieder at the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition in Belgium. She has recorded for numerous labels, and now enjoys an exclusive contract with the Naïve label, for which she has recorded the title roles in Vivaldi’s operas Griselda and Orlando furioso. Her first recital CD of French mélodies (L’Heure exquise) was much praised by the critics. In 2008 Naïve released a recording of Vivaldi sacred works in which she sings the famous Stabat Mater. This was followed by the same composer’s La fida ninfa. In 2009 Naïve released a recital of Schumann songs with the pianist Daniel Blumenthal and a programme of Vivaldi arias with the Ensemble Matheus under Jean-Christophe Spinosi.