Jen Cluff ~ Finding flute CDs

Canadian Flutist and Teacher


Finding great flute CDs

Desert Island flute CDs ~ Jen's personal list

2008 - Some great recent finds in flute CDs.

Lorna McGhee's playing is fresh, lovely, and superb. Her three flute and harp CDs are below. Don't go to your flutey desert island without them. Unbelievably moving. :>) 

Fin de Siecle by Trio Verlaine

Canada New Works for Flute and Harp



Another great flute CD was brought to my attention by Trevor Wye. It is the Leipzig Flute Ensemble: Quintessenz . Check out their new "Tour de France" CD. Unbelievable. Amazing,. Brilliant, Stunning. I could listen to the above three albums over and over and over again, and, honestly, I'm not prone to exaggeration. :>)

From 2002:

Here are some "desert island" suggestions of great flute CDs in an interesting order to "discover" them in (with a little explanation of each):

1. Naxos CD No. 8.554166
Dance of the Blessed Spirits
Nora Shulman Flute, Judy Loman Harp

Description: These lovely, slow moving works have been recorded at A440 with the flutist providing a dark, sonorous and full tone colour.
Since it's clearly recorded just above the volume of the harp, there is a terrific opportunity to hear "legato" playing style, and for students to learn to play along.
Most of the pieces are in the book: 36 Repertoire Pieces, ed: Donald Peck They are at a simple enough level that a flutist studying classical for about three years should have no trouble playing them.

2. Encores William Bennett Flute- Clifford Benson Piano
I second the suggestion of Susan M. who recommended this. Bennett has a liveliness and a pallet of tone colours that are clearly recorded and full 'o beans!
The pieces can mostly be found in his "My Favourite Encores" book, and most are playable by someone studying about 4-5 years privately.

3. Title: Histoire du Tango Susan Hoeppner Flute- Rachel Gauk Guitar
Non-classical pieces, that are yet approachable by intermediate flute students who read music well. The title composition is of course, the fabulously dance-like work by Piazzolla, and the rest of the album is "easy-listening" South American music for flute and guitar. Very fun to jam along with.
Being a Hoeppner fan, I'd also recommend all of her other albums just for the sheer richness and power in her tone. The only album of hers I would NOT buy again (tempi too fast) would be "French Composers".
All others phenomenal.

4. James Galway Title: J.S. Bach Sonatas [RCA Victor]
One of my all-time favourites because of the beautiful balance of cello, harpsichord and flute. I personally enjoy Galway's interpretation of these lovely classics from the Bach literature as one of my top listening albums. I suggest that if you want to blow your mind, listen to cuts 4 thru' 7 first (the E Major Sonata) first. It's an unbelievably beautiful piece of music being tenderly and brilliantly played. The vibrato use is really the most touching. Also: The G Major Trio Sonata for two flutes and harpsichord/cello on this first Bach Sonatas CD is great; for hours of fun, download or buy the sheet music for the G Major Trio Sonata and play along both parts. It's gorgeous!! (Plays at A 442-A444)

There's a second "Galway Bach Vol II" album with Trio Sonatas on it, including the same beautiful G Major trio sonata played with violinist Monica Huggett. Great to learn to blend with a violin from listening to this (challenging timbres!)

  5. Alexa Still-  Flute with String Orchestra
Title: Jacob, Arnold and Musgrave

This contains three major works for flute and strings that are modern and sonorous.
Still has a smoothness of legato that is unbelievable, and creates an amazing mood.
If you love the sound of flute backed up by full string orchestra, this album is incomparable. You want to imitate her smoothness of legato and ease of large leaps between octaves. Another album of Still's that's fabulous is the all-Koechlin flute-alone album of "Chants des Nectaire."

 Koechlin fans will find these recordings for solo flute are indescribably beautiful.

6. Carol Wincenc- Flute
Title: Music of Barber, Copland, Cowell

This is a high-energy album that includes a stompin' hoe-down rendition of Lukas Foss's "Three American Pieces" as well as Barber's "Canzone" and Copland's "Duo for Flute and Piano". What's great about this flutist is her irrepressible energy!!!
Flutists who've studied about 6-7 years would find it fun to play along with some of the easier works. (although my copy of this is from the LP and is inexplicably at A 444)

If you can't find the above title, substitute Paula Robison's
"American Masterworks".

7. Ingela Oien-Flute
Title: Great 20th Century Flute Music

Someone else suggested this CD. It's very strongly presented, huge powerful presence, and very dark and brooding works, spikey and angular. It contains Dutilleux, Jolivet, Messiaen, Martinu and Mortensen, so you'll have to enjoy truly complex compositional techniques, but WOW!! What POWER!

8. James Galway-Flute
Title: Italian Flute Concerti

Beautiful slow mvmts and sparkling fast mvmts. in this Baroque album. Lovely renderings of heart-breakingly lovely 1700s concerti. Great to play along with, from the book: "Flute Music of the Baroque" published by Schirmer.

9. Debra L. Reuter-Pivetta- Flute
Title: Passion and Romance

A very musically precise, very perfect series of performances of some of the most notey compositions for flute from two historical periods; from Saint-Saen's Romance and "The Grande Mayonnaise" (just kidding)
of Boehm, to Bozza's "Image" and my all-time fave-rave 20th century gypsy-work: Eldin Burton's "Sonatina".
(Catch the finger-action in the third mvmt.!)

This last album would be of great interest to a flutist in their final years of University-level study.

10. Peter Lukas Graf- Flute. Title: Solos for Flute Alone.

The ambience on the original LP of this is amazing and the flute is absolutely revealed in it's tone quality.
The interpretations are very deep, especially if you're reading Graf's book, "Interpretation-Shaping the Melodic Line" at the same time as listening to this LP, as he uses copious extracts from the pieces on this album to illustrate his interpretive rules, historical precedents, and considered interpretive preferences.

But even without the book, some of the pieces are "best ever" type sound quality.
There's a tremendous version of Marin Marais "Les Folies D'Espagne" which is the most hypnotically fascinating piece anyway, but Graf plays it totally alone in a huge cathedral like space, and the resonance, spinning outward of the sound, and acoustic echo are
unparelled in any other recordings of the Marais that I've heard.

He then plays CPE Bach's A minor Sonata (all the works are unaccompanied), and does a magnificent job on the interpretation; not hasty, not too heavy, not too light, not
Baroque-squeaky-cleansed-----but poetic, soulful, and meaningful.

He does a very clean and interesting J.S. Bach A minor unaccompanied with a nice simple Sarabande but unfortunately he used tape splicing in the opening (impossible to breathe in) movement.
So have a reality check!!!
Don't think it's YOU, that you can't breathe that much, that fast, without actually stopping for more breaths.
They've mostly been edited out so no beats are lost.

I would say that his Graf's CD of Flute Alone, issued later, and re-recorded, is not quite as great as the original LP recording.

But either way, listening to Graf, in addition to a full read of his book would be the TOTAL teaching tool at the highest levels of flute playing. And hearing his particular "Les Folies D'Espagne" will make your YEAR!!
Enthusiastically heading for that island now with these CDs! :>)
Jen Cluff written in 2002

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Where to buy Flute CDs?

Flute CDs in North America:

Most in one place; catalogue cross-references by flutist and/or by Composition/Title of piece:

Order a catalogue to see listings at a glance.

2. Carolyn Nussbaum Music Co. Texas, U.S.:
This site pictures the covers of many great and standard flute CDS:
Go to:


3. Justflutes, TopWind and [404 Not Found] other European companies


4. Public Libraries: Looking for flute CDs in the public library?
Here's a library with a particularly good list of CDs:

Library holdings Flute CDs at UNLV (Nevada, U.S.) Libraries:

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© Jennifer Cluff