Czerny Music for Flute and Piano Seo UenoCarl Czerny

Music for Flute and Piano

Trois Rondeaux faciles et brillans; Introduzione, Variazioni e Finale; Duo concertant; Rondoletto concertant

Kazunori Seo, flute

Makoto Ueno, piano

Naxos, 2015

Robert Schumann was extremely critical about the production of composer and music teacher Carl Czerny, of whom he wrote on the Neue Zeitschrigt für Musik that «it would be hard to discover a greater bankruptcy in imagination than Czerny has proved», but there are some considerations to do to mitigate his verdict. As the works collected in the recording Music for Flute and Piano prove, Czerny’s music is not deep or stirring, direct to the expression of the most troubled feelings of the human soul in a way that could have being acceptable to a Romantic composer, and is on the contrary entertaining and light, so that it is easy to imagine it performed in upper-class receptions.

Czerny (1791-1857) is anyway a significant composer and is even more important as a teacher. His catalogue numbers a huge quantity of compositions that, if quantity alone is not enough to praise anyone (it may be superfluous to remember Stravinsky’s opinion on Vivaldi, supposed to have written three hundred times the same concerto), covers every genre imaginable. Moreover, Czerny was a pupil of Beethoven and closely studied the works of Mozart and Clementi, so that he transferred a really important heritage to his own pupils, among whom the greatest name is that of Franz Liszt. Liszt is also one of those personalities that affirm Czerny’s skill in opposition to Schumann and that at least contribute to balance the opinion of posterity towards him.

As I wrote before, Music for Flute and Piano is a recording where entertainment prevails on meditation, but this consideration regards only the outcome, as the two players (flutist Kazunori Seo and pianist Makoto Ueno) offer an extremely serious and accomplished performance of Czerny’s Trois Rondeaux faciles et brillans, Duo concertant and Rondoletto concertant. First of all, they understand each other very well and seem really to enjoy playing together and to pursue an identical aim. In my opinion, this is the presentation of Czerny’s music laying stress on its lightness, so that the works are characterized from time to time by sprightliness, spontaneity and a certain wit, when not by a delightful irony.

The first work, of which the complete title is Rondeaux faciles et brillans, concertans sur les motifs favoris de Rossini et Bellini, already gives a pretty good idea of what the album is: a whole of apparently unpretending works that actually reveal their value if they are played with care and inspiration. I think that the special worth of Music for Flute and Piano is precisely in this, in the highlighting of the optimistic, rosy vision implied by Czerny’s music.

The performance of Seo and Ueno is characterized also by a certain intimacy, so that the works seem performed for a small audience, something that makes this recording one of the most suitable to be heard in the quietness of someone’s home without losing anything of the effect, in contrast with thundering symphonies or operas.

Music for Flute and Piano is an amazing tribute to Carl Czerny’s music and an exploration of a neglected part of his catalogue, generally limited to the technical exercises for piano. These “new” works are so finely performed that is a pleasure to listen to them despite they lack some features that are become familiar to our ears after the contributions of composers of the following eras.