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Early Music

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Flute Sonatas by Scheibe and Raehs
Johann Adolph SCHEIBE (1708-1776)

Sonata No. 1 in D major, for flute and harpsichord obbligato
Sonata No. 2 in B minor, for flute and harpsichord obbligato
Sonata No. 3 in A major, for flute and harpsichord obbligato
Morten RAEHS (1702-1766)

Sonata No. 2 in D major, for flute and basso continuo
Sonata No. 3 in C minor, for flute and basso continuo
Maria Bania (flute)
Lars Ulrik Mortensen (harpsichord)
Rec. Diamanten, The Royal Library, 11-13 January 2002 DDD
DACAPO 8.224213 [61:49]


An interesting release from the Dacapo label of five sonatas for flute and harpsichord featuring Scandinavian based flautist Maria Bania and award winning harpsichordist Lars Ulrik Mortensen. There are three flute sonatas by German born composer and keyboard player Johann Scheibe and two flute sonatas from the Danish composer Morten Raehs who was a professional flutist. Both Scheibe and Raehs were influential composers in Danish music circles in the mid-eighteenth century; particularly prominent in Copenhagen and these five sonatas form part of the famous Giedde Collection of 300 works, mainly for flute.

Scheibe’s three flute sonatas were composed sometime between 1740-60 and utilise the harpsichord on an equal basis to the flute not as a mere basso continuo. The works are written in the four movement slow-fast-medium fast-fast format. It is characteristic of Scheibe that each movement is monothematic composed to represent a single emotion.

The two flute sonatas of Raehs composed around 1748 contrast with those of Scheibe in two main respects. Firstly Raehs adopts the late-baroque model of using the harpsichord as a basso continuo and secondly each sonata is composed in a three movement form.

All five flute sonatas contained on this Decapo release are appealing and exceedingly well crafted works yet lack the melodic inventiveness of more famous contemporaries such as Vivaldi, Handel, Telemann and Tartini et al. Flautist Maria Bania is most technically secure perhaps at the expense of emotional expression and both players are in a definite rush throughout not allowing the music the space to breath. Clearly this is not music of the Premier League status but the players have missed the opportunity to reveal far more of the works’ qualities.

The sonics are crisp and clear yet the engineers have focused predominantly on the flute soloist leaving the harpsichord rather in its shadow.
Rather disappointing and workmanlike performances.

Michael Cookson

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