Katherine Bryan - Liebermann Flute Concerto - Gramophone

A product of Chetham's School of Music and the Julliard School, finalist three years running in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition and currently principal flute with the RSNO, Katherine Bryan certainly makes her mark in the likeable anthology for Linn on which she is backed by her colleagues under Paul Daniel's sensitive lead.

Lowell Liebermann's 1992 Concerto gets top billing on the sleeve.  Fashioned for James Galway, it's an impeccably crafted and readily assimilable confection, though Liebermann's chosen idiom can tend towards the worryingly sentimental and derivative (the opening Moderato in particular shamelessly apes Prokofiev).  Suffice to say, Bryan revels in the music's mix of long-breathed lyricism and devel-may-care acrobatics (the rollercoaster Presto finale is chock-full of pyrotechnical wizardry).  She's also a delectably poised exponent of Poulenc's ravishing Sonata (heard in Lennox Berkeley's perfectly judged orchestration, instigated and premiered by Galway in 1977), which is preceded here by the Fantaisie by Versailles-born Georges Hüe (1858-1948), a most beguiling discovery written for the Paris Conservatoire's 1913 concours and dedicated to that institution's professor of flute, Adolphe Hennebains.

Nielsen's enchanting Concerto brings up the rear, a piece that Bryan has lived with for some years now and to which she brings plenty of fantasy, delicacy and (in the work's boisterous dialogue with the trombone) playfulness.  With Daniel and the RSNO lending committed and characterful support, it's a sterling display, albeit without quite eclipsing memories of dedicatee Holger Gilber-Jespersen's 1954 world-premiere recording with Thomas Jensen (which has just re-emerged on an unmissable all-Nielsen Australian Eloquence double-pack, with Jensen directing Symphonies Nos 1 and 5, as well as Ib Erikson in the Clarinet Concerto).

I need merely add that Bryan's lustrous tone manages to emerge unscathed within the far-from-accommodating acoustic of Glasgow's Henry Wood Hall, the timbre of the orchestra rather less so.

Gramophone
01 January 2011