Celia Redgate

Flute

 

The English Flute


During summer 2007 I recorded 'The English Flute' which has now been released on the Divine Art Label.

We now have stocks available which you can order from me or direct from Divine Art.

I very much enjoyed playing with Michael Dussek as my accompanist.

Below are a number of review of the CD including reviews from International Record Review and Gramophone magazines.

The music on the CD leads us through the 20th century in encountering players connected with the wooden flute. (As you can see from my photograph I also play a wooden flute.)

The pieces recorded are:

Edward German - Suite

Christopher Redgate - Three English Folksong Arrangements

York Bowen - Sonata

Arnold Cooke - Sonatina

Michael Head - By the River in Spring

John Tavener - Greek Interlude

Charles Stainer - Étude in D minor

Frederic Griffith - Dance Negre

 

The CD will be in memory of Gareth Morris my Royal Academy of Music flute professor who died in Feburary 2007.

 

CD Reviews

The English Flute – Celia Redgate Flute, Michael Dussek Piano

Review March 2008

 

INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW:
One of the most richly enjoyable musical experiences of my playing career was performing violin in a small Baroque chamber ensemble with a Baroque flautist, whose original wooden instrument produced a sound of blemishless, mellow purity. While it would be overstating the case to assert that it is impossible to match on a metal flute the amber-toned, oak-aged, ravishing tone that radiates from Celia Redgate’s 1921 Rudall Carte, I can’t think of a single modern player who makes a sound to rival it. Redgate’s mid-range floats by seamlessly as though buoyed aloft on a warm current of air rather than activated by it. Her upper register is completely free of breathy shrillness, and her lower notes are encompassed effortlessly without the slightest sense of ‘reaching down’.

 

Some of the most enchanting British chamber music ever composed has been touched by the neo-classical charm of late nineteenth-century France, as witness Edward German’s Flute Suite, which sounds for all the world like an evacuee from Debussy’s Petite Suite. Arnold Cooke’s Sonatina has more than a whiff of Claude Arrieu about it, York Bowen’s Flute Sonata is closer to Poulenc, while Stainer’s whistle-stop Étude suggests Godard as its starting-point. The other pieces on the album are more quintessentially ‘English’, including Sir John Tavener’s Greek Interlude, which despite its Mediterranean derivations possesses a meditative, chant-like quality which sounds engagingly Albionesque.

 

Throughout this generous and musically well-balanced recital Redgate and her endlessly supportive and sensitive accompanist Michael Dussek play with supreme naturalness. Her mellifluous tone and impeccable technique combine to create the perfect vehicle for these endlessly delightful miniatures, while her effortless phrasing and enchanting musical presence completely disarm any sensation of there being an ‘interpreter at work’. Glowingly recorded and played with exemplary taste and skill, this is one of the most distinguished flute discs to have come my way in a long time. More please!

Julian Haylock

 

The English Flute Pan Review – Richard Stagg – Pan, March 2008

 

This CD has three united but distinct strings to its bow: it features works by English Composers or by those who are honorary Englishmen despite their cross-border connections; it celebrates the achievements and influence of important Royal Academy of Music teachers; and it celebrates the continuing survival of the wooden flute in the 21st century.

Celia Redgate (nee Pitstow) studied with the late Gareth Morris at the RAM, where she gained many distinctions. Her Career has centred on recital work and chamber music. Sir Edward German Jones’ Suite for flute and piano comes across as distinctly Elgarian, Sir John Tavener’s Greek Interlude could almost pass for English, and the Welshman Frederic Griffith’s Danse Negre sounds as English as tea and toasted crumpets.

The high points of the CD are, for me, York Bowen’s Sonata and Christopher Redgate’s Three English Folksongs. Christopher, who is married to Celia, is a well-known oboist who doubles on the Didgeridoo. He is also, evidently, an accomplished composer, as his inventive and skilfully-wrought folk arrangements demonstrates.   Michael Dussek is a first-rate accompanist with a scrupulous ear for balance and ensemble. With all this virtuosity one might expect an embarrass de richesses, but not a bit of it! The message of this CD is that simple is beautiful, and that simple can also rustle up a storm to make your hair stand on end. The wooden flute offers good plain country fare, cooked properly, which doesn’t need the whole spice-jar thrown into the stew. Don’t just take my word for it buy the disc.

 

 

John France Review Music Web March 2008

 

One of the highlights of this CD is the Sir Edward German Suite. He is often seen as being in the second-eleven group of composers. People who have come across him associate his name with his light opera Merrie England. German wrote a deal of ‘light music’ yet he also penned two symphonies, much incidental music and a number of chamber works. The present work was composed in 1899 and dedicated to his friend Frederic Griffith – a flautist and composer.

The Suite is an attractive piece of ‘quintessentially English’ music. It could be argued that much in these three movements nods towards the music of Arthur Sullivan. Yet this ignores the fact that there is a quality about this suite that goes beyond that particular genre. In fact the middle movement, the Souvenir, is a perfect miniature that balances sentimentality with retrospection. To be fair, the Gypsy Dance owes much to the ‘theatrical life’ of the late nineteenth century.

The flautist’s husband has arranged Three Folk Songs for the flute and piano: ‘Barbara Ellen’, ‘Green Bushes’ and ‘The Wraggle Taggle Gypsies, O’. They were written for ‘Celia on her birthday in 2002.’ The composer writes that he “wanted to create works which contain and contrast stunning, unashamed virtuosity and beautiful melodic lines.” He has achieved this in abundance. There is nothing of ‘cow and gate’ about these three arrangements. If anything there is a hard-edged quality that pushes any sentimentally inherent in the original tunes into the background. There are touches of beauty and sheer poetry in these pages that transcend the original tunes.

Michael Head is probably best known as a writer of songs – however he has a few chamber pieces to his credit. By the River in Spring was written in 1960 and was revised a couple of years later: it is hardly a work of its time being somewhat retro. It is described as “a song without words interrupted by a flute cadenza and a short vivace section.” I am not sure I like this work – it seems to my ear a touch unbalanced and perhaps a little self-indulgent. For example, a folk-like tune is offset by ‘late-romantic’ pianism. And do I detect a little phrase that sounds very similar to the opening credits of that great 1960s series ‘The Man from Uncle’? It needs another listen, methinks.

I asked Celia what made her opt for the Arnold Cooke Sonatina. She acknowledged that it has had some negative press in flautist’s circles. For this reason she had not acquired the score for her library. However, after studying it for this recording she revised her views. Celia became struck by “what could be described as an ‘honest transparency’. With its clear contrapuntal lines, well crafted structure and a degree of charm there is something of the ‘English gentleman’ about this work.”.

I know that for too long Cooke has been assumed to be a pale shadow of his teacher, Paul Hindemith. Following the recent Lyrita release of his Symphony No. 1 I wrote that there is a thinking abroad that somehow Cooke sold-out on his Britishness to become a kind of Germanic clone. On the other hand there is a prevalent expectation that an English composer should write music in a recognisably nationalistic style: perhaps making use of folk-tunes or nodding to the vocal lines of Tallis or the romanticism of Elgar. This is not the case with the present Sonatina: it can only be described as an urbane work that presents its material in a balanced and subtle manner. It only adds to my conviction that Cooke is a man waiting to be rediscovered or perhaps even discovered. Possibly the most satisfying offering on this CD.

If Cooke is ultimately satisfying, the masterpiece on this CD is surely York Bowen’s impressive Flute Sonata Op.120, written in 1946. I asked Celia about this work: she said “I remember my teacher Gareth Morris speaking about York Bowen. He had been astounded by Bowen’s technique on the piano and when playing the piece you can almost imagine him enjoying his own piano part!” The work is in an unashamedly romantic style and lasts for a good sixteen minutes. The three movements manage to be contrasting, yet totally consistent at the same time: the range of emotion is considerable. Stylistically the Sonata breathes a Mediterranean air rather than looking to the colder English seas. For some unaccountable reason the Flute Sonata was left un-played for a number of years. It is suggested that Bowen’s romantic and approachable style became unfashionable. Yet approaching this fine work in the early years of a more eclectic musical twenty-first century I agree with Celia that this is a substantial piece by a fine composer.

 

I will not say that I do not like the music of John Tavener: It is just that I do not relate to it. The present work was written for the 1979 Little Missenden Festival. Musically it is based on Byzantine modes and Greek folk music. The Interlude is meant to take us on a musical voyage: from Bulgaria to the Greek Islands and back. The six sections suggest stations on the journey – they include a convivial occasion at Aegina and Calling at Rhodes. There are some nice moments in this work. And it certainly presents the soloist with some interesting and attractive material.

Frederic Griffith’s Danse Nègre is a great work - full of life and fun and sheer enjoyment. Griffith was himself a fine flautist. This is blindingly obvious from this piece! It is quite definitely an encore number. The programme notes suggest that it is a typically “English view of a ‘Negro Dance’. With this I concur and it is an impressive piece for all that!

I know nothing about Charles Stainer – save that his namesakes are famous in both the train-spotting and musical worlds. And he was a professor at the RAM. This Étude was written by the composer for Robert Murchie, one-time principal flute in the BBC Symphony Orchestra. It is an attractive work that does not push at any stylistic boundaries. I am not a flautist, but I guess that it is a challenging play!

The music is well played by Celia Redgate and Michael Dussek. There is a confidence about the performances which is impressive. The only criticism is that the programme notes could be more detailed – especially concerning the little known works and composers.

Taken in the round this is a fine selection of English Flute music. Typically, it introduces the listener to works that are unknown. A quick check of the CD catalogue suggests that only the Bowen is currently available on CD. So ‘well done’ Divine Art in providing some seven first recordings of some really interesting music.

For my money the laurel goes to Arnold Cooke for his Sonatina. But the Bowen, the Redgate and the German are all very close seconds!

John France

Gramophone Review June 2008 – Andrew Achenbach

 

A Lovely programme, demonstrating the appeal of the wooden flute.

A pupil of former Philharmonia principal flautist Gareth Morris, Celia Redgate has followed in her teacher’s footsteps as a champion of the wooden flute, whose melow tone was such a familiar voice in British orchestras throughout the first half of the last century. She has devised the present programme to show off the virtues of her chosen instrument, the works having been selected, to quote her own engaging notes, “for their rich diversity of style and character and their relevance to a group of English flute players”.

Edward German’s charmingly innocuous Suite of 1889 is inscribed to his flautist friend and fellow RAM alumnus Frederic Griffith, whose sprightly Dance Negre nestles next to a delicious Etude  by Charles Stainer. Stainer in turn taught Gareth Morris, whose exquisite artistry inspired both York Bowen’s 1946 Sonata (along with Arnold Cook’s Sonatina, the most durable offering here) and Michael Head’s Idyllic By the River in Spring (1950). Redgate Herself gave the 1979 world premiere of John Tavener’s Greek Interlude, while her brother Christopher chips in with Three Folk Songs (“Barbara Ellen”, Green Bushes” and “ The Wraggle Taggle Gypsies, O!”) that he wrote as a birthday gift for her in 2002.

Suffice to say, Redgate performs all this attractive material with conspicuous flair, grace and discrimination (vibrato is kept within tasteful bounds). I merely add that Michael Dussek accompanies with the utmost sympathy, and the recorded sound is nicely intimate and beautifully balanced to boot.

 

See also:

'The Land of Lost Content' blog by John France.

The CD notes will include notes on the composers and the a number of players of the English Flute