Richard Stoltzman & “Maid with the Flaxen Hair”

I had trouble deciphering the name of the publisher on the CD cover materials for the Windows 7 recording of Richard Stolzman playing Debussy’s “Maid with the Flaxen Hair”. Then, I thought to set the default software for opening it to my browser. This enlarged it slightly and I could make out the name of “Navona Records”. I visited their site and was delighted to find that they were offering a “New Year’s Gift”- downloads of the audio and sheet music of the piece and a video of Stoltzman talking about it. I don’t know how long it will be made available but here is the link:

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Recordings to Inspire Amateur Players

Just recently, I was delighted to find that Cramer Music have launched a new publication of  “The Classic Experience”,  for flute, wiith 2 CDs. This book of popular classical pieces now comes with recorded performances and practice tempo piano accompaniments. I do hope that, in the very near future, they will do the same for the clarinet version.

There is such a dearth of recorded wind music that is suitable for less advanced players to tackle for themselves! Yes, I know that there are now CDs to accompany ABRSM graded exam repertoire and various method books but this is a far cry from an expressive soundworld that will inspire pupils to explore music and make it their own, without worrying about what grade it might be. I can tell pupils that professional performers put just as much love and thought into preparing a simple tune as they do with advanced sonatas and concertos but they’re not going to believe me unless they can hear the  for themselves the magic of simple music beautifully rendered. One such moment for me was hearing Nigel Kennedy play at , I think it was, the Brit Awards. We had been treated to some amazing virtuoso performances, when along came Kennedy to play “Danny Boy” – breathtaking!

Flute players are a little better served than other wind players and I attribute this to the inspiration of James Galway. He had the courage to bring the flute ‘to the masses’ and to perform music of all kinds. Even so, my regular scout round the instrumental section HMV, et al, usually results in disappointment, even as regards flute. For clarinettists, there are a few pieces recorded by Emma Johnson and that’s about it! I was thrilled, though, when I installed Windows 7 to find that one of the audio samples was of Richard Stoltzman playing Debussy’s “Maid with the Flaxen Hair”. I don’t know how Microsoft came to select that – perhaps, it’s well-known  ‘on the other side of the pond’. I hadn’t come across it before.

Do you folks out there know of collections of simple music beautifully played on flute or clarinet that should be better known to teachers and pupils? If so, please share!