I had not yet had the pleasure to experience his exceptional once in a lifetime musicianship live and in person. It seemed to be that I was always just missing him. I'd go out of town the day he arrive for a concert, he'd give a concert in a town I had just been in, he came to various summer festivals as a teacher/artist the summer after or before I was there, etc. When I had my plans changed last min. and was able to attend his recital last night courtesy of UMS, I jumped at the chance to use my 20% SEMFA discount on tickets and go to see one of my flute heros and legends and he did NOT disappoint!
When I arrived to Rackham Auditorium (located on the University of Michigan Campus in Ann Arbor) the lobby was literally buzzing with a few hundred people waiting with anticipation for the concert to start. The venue was perfect for this type of recital. It seats just over 1000 people (and this particular concert was near sold-out) but the stage is semi-thrust into the auditorium making it feel as intimate as if there were only a hundred or so guests invited to this exclusive one night only event. All the local flute elite were there from the University of Michigan Professor Amy Porter, Detroit Symphony flutists Sharon Sparrow and Jeffrey Zook, to Penny Fischer (whom is one of the named sponsors this recital was able to be put on by), and of course students, general concert goers, and other local freelancers such as myself. The lights went down and oh what a treat we were in for!
Pahud started the program with a flute favorite; Francis Poulenc's Sonata for Flute and Piano. From these very first notes it struck me that I almost felt as if I was hearing the flute for the very first time...a strange feeling indeed considering I play it every day! He twisted and weaved his way through the reoccurring melody's in the first movement with interest and ease, and when he started the piece it came out of nowhere (in fact it was so perfect, beautiful, and sudden, the pianist Alessio Bax almost missed it!). During the Cantilena movement Mr. Pahud played so quiet it was as if the music was floating directly from him rather that from and through the instrument so naturally attached to his face. Mr. Bax matched him so beautifully and together they took us through the vivacious third movement flying around the technical aspects of the movement with ease.
Next was Franz Schubert's Arpeggione (originally for the cello and adapted for the flute by Pahud himself). I have never heard the original but it worked so well on the flute I would never have known it was a string transcription. The piece itself reminded me of the "Truckne Blumen" (also by Schubert) and was very interesting to listen to as Pahud and Bax shared the melodies, work, and gave an equally amazing musical performance and leaving us for intermission wanting MORE!
After intermission the artists returned to the stage with Robert Schumann's Fantasiestucke originally written for clarinet. I must admit that although it was played masterfully I found this piece a bit long winded and understated. Some of the impact that the clarinet must give it is lost a bit on the flute especially with the thicker piano writing that sometimes over powered the flutes low register in spite of Pahud's spectacular low sound.
The concert was finished out with the Sonata if F Major by Mendelssohn arranged by Pahud. This was honestly the BEST piece on the program for me. It is clear through this that Pahud is ready to put a lot of the flute standards behind him and to delve into works yet untouched by flutists and this transcription will likely be making its way into the standard repertoire if it hasn't already. He finished the concert with a gorgeous encore of Rachmaninov's Vocalise (a "V" piece for Valentines Day).
I left inspired and have been approaching my instrument with a refreshing amount of wonder and excitement as a result of this concert and I cannot wait for him to return again (hopefully soon) so I can once again hear the flute as it is truly meant to be played.