Margaret Cornils, flute

MARCH 26, 2010

A packed Weill Recital Hall greeted flutist Margaret Cornils for this recital, which was sponsored by MidAmerica Productions. The first half was made up of three of the most popular pieces in the flute repertoire: Bach’s B Minor Sonata, Debussy’s Syrinx, and Poulenc’s Sonata. Some of Bach’s flute sonatas were written for flute and basso continuo (a keyboard instrument, whose left hand is doubled by a bass instrument such as a cello, and whose right hand improvises chords stipulated by the composer.) The B Minor Sonata, however, is written for flute and an obbligato (fully written-out) keyboard – without cello. Although cellist Kevin Price blended well with the other fine performers, his part was superfluous.

Due to its quasi-improvisatory character, Syrinx is a different piece for each flutist. Cornils’ rendition was somewhat matter of fact, but nevertheless effective. The Poulenc Sonata was the most satisfying offering on the first half. Her phrasing in the opening of the Cantilena was pure perfection, and the last movement (presto giocoso) displayed an impressive third-octave technique and clear double-tonguing.

The second half of the program was as unknown as the first half was familiar. It opened with Gary Schocker’s Musique Francais, written in 1997. This is a pleasant, skillfully written composition, with several tips of the hat to Poulenc. The third movement is a virtuoso’s tour de force in which Cornils again showed her fine technique. The next piece, Pandean Fable by Clifton Williams, effectively displayed the haunting tone color of the bass flute.

The recital concluded with Paul Agricole Genin’s arrangement of Carnival of Venice. A surprisingly interesting, beautiful and rather lengthy introduction preceded the familiar trite tune. Once the introduction was over, the virtuosic variations which followed exploited all the tricks up the flutist’s sleeve. Cornils was up to the challenge and the audience rewarded her with a standing ovation.

Sharon Jenson was the excellent pianist.

Written by Barrett Cobb for New York Concert Review.

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