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The performers were flutist Christine Gustafson and assistant professor of piano Kwan Yi. The program, thirty intense minutes in length, was Gabriel Fauré's Fantaisie, Op. 9 (1898), Georges Barrère's Nocturne (1913), Pierre Sancan's Sonatine (1946), and Georges Hüe's "Fantaisie" (1913).
The repertoire chosen for this recital embraced a very tight period of time and nationalistic place. The period, half a century from 1898 to 1946; the place, the Conservatoire de Paris – all four composers were trained at the Conservatoire.
Gustafson is an absolute master of the modern flute; all of the pieces chosen were tours de force written to show off an advanced player's mastery. They were all demanding; I found them rich in complexity at the expense of musical interest. Gustafson was undaunted by their difficulty. She practiced her own very version of eurythmics, bending and flexing in the forward and backward plane, with little or no sideways swaying.
Yi displayed an equal mastery of the piano. Nothing about this music could be considered easy, but the accompaniment is more fluid, more musical than the skips and leaps of the demanding flute passages.
The Fauré had some remarkable fierce runs in the second part, set off against the more conventional and harp-like piano accompaniment. Gustafson's breath control was impressive.
Barrère's Nocturne was the most musical piece of the evening, tapering off exactly as if going to sleep. The piano was fully open; Yi's playing was perfectly balanced with Gustafson's flute. As the nocturne tapered off, so did the piano, right down to the most delicate of final passages.
Sancan's Sonatine is more angry than romantic, but the passages that sound like bird imitations were very interesting.
Hüe's "Fantaisie" is more formally organized than any of the previous pieces. It had a very lyrical beginning and then went crazy.
Yi and Gustafson were a well-matched pair, playing well together. Gustafson's flute fireworks were most impressive. The tension of such complicated pieces made the thirty-minute length just about right; some more lyrical pieces, works that might have given at least one good ear-worm melody, could well have been added.