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Chants de Nectaire

Nicola Woodward, Flute


Recorded at Clifton Cathedral, Bristol with kind permission of the Dean

Produced by Richard Jeffrey-Gray

Copyright Hoxa 2020 | Design: Lesley Lee Design

It is a tragedy that this incredible collection of 96 pieces for unaccompanied flute has been unduly neglected by the flute world for so long! The fact that there are just so many pieces in the collection begs the inevitable question of quality and variety. This is where the Koechlin is so extraordinary!

“These performances by Nicola Woodward are intensely rewarding with all the suppleness, refinement and easy expressiveness such jewelled miniatures need.” Andrew Clements – The Guardian, Classical Album of the Week

CD’s can be purchased at the links below – these are UK based and slightly cheaper than Amazon:

Naxos Direct, PrestoMusic, EuropaDisc

Book I – d’Apres la Revolte des Anges


Available on CD
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"Nicola Woodward’s advantage is her acute sense of heightened persuasion … decisive instructions re-awaken the soul of Charles Koechlin." - Christie Grimstad, 

“Nicola Woodward proves herself an impressive advocate for Les Chants de Nectaire. Throughout, her phrasing is finely judged, her range of colour pleasing and sensitive, her breath control outstanding. She respects the (deceptively) ‘simple’ honesty of Koechlin’s music. There are other recordings …. I prefer Nicola Woodward’s interpretation to either of those. To put it simply, she communicates more of Koechlin’s distinctive magic.” - Glyn Pursglove, MusicWeb

"Woodward’s virtuosic playing – in a very reverberant acoustic – evokes a dream-like atmosphere, fluid in the spiralling lines of Naissance De La Vie and brings grim power to the opening of Criblent De Flèches" - Angus MaPhearson, Limelight

Book 2 – Dans la Foret Antique


Available on CD
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“This collection is hypnotic: magical playing as near as you will come to mesmerism in music.”  - The Cambridge Critique

“Beautifully performed and recorded” - Dominy Clements, MusicWeb

“What a wonderful way Nicola Woodward manages the delivery with a “vision in the moment” with a memory for a lifetime.” - Chrisite Grimstad,

Book 3 – Prières, Corteges et Danses pour le Dieux Familiers


Available on CD
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"Charles Koechlin’s musical output was lustrous, and inside the gates of Nicola Woodward’s enchanted flute, we are sheltered by warmth and comfort. These œuvres speak cleanly to each one of us: we feel an absolute connection." - Christie Grimstad,

The ideas flow; every piece a unique sound world, quite different from any other. Koechlin tackles massive subjects and never fails to deliver from the most profound and spiritual to the humorous light-hearted. With probably only half a dozen exceptions across the entire collection, each piece is perfectly structured to deliver the magical atmosphere that is the very essence of music.

The flute player and sage ‘Nectaire’ first appeared in 1914 in a novel by Anatole France entitled ‘La Revolte des Anges’, (The Revolt of the Angels) in which angels descend to earth disguised as humans and mischievously plot to overthow God and put Satan on the throne in heaven. This is obviously a snub to the Catholic church but the novel does deliver a moral message.This wonderful, poetic description of his Nectaire’s flute playing inspired Koechlin and once inspired there was no stopping him - all 96 pieces were composed over 4 months in the summer of 1944! There is no doubt that Anatole France understood the spirituality and power of music. How beautiful is this?

“Nectaire raised his flute to his lips; a simple wooden pipe that he could have made himself. He began to play – strange phrases at first, then rich melodies over which trills shone like diamonds and pearls on velvet. Wielded by dextrous fingers and filled with the breath of creation the rustic pipe resonated like a silver flute. One could hear all at once the nightingales, the muses, all of nature and all of mankind. The music spoke of Love, Fear, Vain Quarrels, Victorious Laughter, the Tranquil Clarity of Intelligence, and the Spirit Arrows that pierce the monsters of Ignorance and Hatred. He also told of Joy and Sorrow bending their twin heads over the earth and of the Desire that creates Worlds.

….And as the pure, clear sounds sprang into the enchanted air, the earth became a soft cloud, the Great Bear broke apart and his limbs were scattered, Orion’s belt split. By it’s incantations, in one short instant, the magic flute condensed the life and movements of the universe, seemingly unalterable to men and angels.”


The ‘Chants de Nectaire’ are grouped into three books 32 in each and make up just over 3 hours of music.

The pieces range in length from around 40 seconds to 6 minutes so are ideal in subsets for recitals, auditions and competitions. It is time to look beyond Debussy’s ‘Syrinx’, Honegger’s ‘Danse de la Chevre’ and the ‘Image’ by Bozza – wonderful as they are because these pieces also deserve to be played and enjoyed.

If you would like to know more, please contact me.

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