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Cantilena Records

Friedrich Daniel Rudolph KUHLAU (1786-1832)
Three Duos for Two Flutes, Opus 10 (1807) [39.25]
Laurel Zucker, flute 1; Renee Siebert, flute 2
Five Divertimenti for solo Flute, Op 68 (1825) [45.18]
Laurel Zucker, flute
Three Virtuoso Duets for Two Flutes, Opus 102 (1830) [41.59]
Renee Siebert, flute 1; Laurel Zucker, flute 2
Recorded at Concordia College, Bronxville, New York, USA, 28 May 2004
Notes in English, photos and bios of the artists. No composer information.
CANTILENA 66018-2 [70.05+ 56.37]


You might think that just over two hours of music for flutes and nothing but flutes would be awfully boring, but, no, it certainly is not. We donít mind listening to two hours of piano music, or vocal music, or organ music, or two full disks of the Bach solo cello suites. And perhaps the point is that the flute, or two flutes, are capable of a great range of expression and just as capable of holding our attention as other instruments. Also this music is fascinating, constantly new and full of life and adventure. I assume these are teaching pieces, or are at least used as teaching pieces, and these excellent flutists decided to make them available to the public in this recording.

Kuhlau (not to be confused with Kuhnau who wrote the Biblical Sonatas for harpsichord) was born in Hanover. At the age of seven he injured his eye in a fall and lost the use of it. His first flute lessons were with his father who was a military musician. He continued his study of flute and piano in Brunswick and then studied harmony with Schwenke in Hamburg. In 1810 he fled to Denmark to escape conscription into the French army, becoming a Danish citizen in 1813. When he found success as a court composer he paid for his parents and sister to join him in Copenhagen. It is a matter of dispute whether or not he played the flute professionally, but he came to be called "The Beethoven of the Flute." Although during his life his operas were successful, today he is best known for piano sonatas and a piano concerto. In 1825 he visited Vienna and participated in a witty exchange of canons with Beethoven, who addressed him as a "dear friend." A number of his unpublished manuscripts were consumed in a fire which destroyed his home in 1830. Waiting out in the cold in front of his burning house damaged his health. He was also severely grief stricken at the death of his parents at about the same time, and he died a year later.

I have been unable to find any information as to the actual dates of the individual compositions within Kuhlauís short lifetime. The opus numbers may give a clue as to early and late. But there is no obvious "early" and "late" sense of style to these various works even though the composer lived at a time when tastes were rapidly changing.

These performers are true virtuose, and give us a richly varied sound and show an excellent sense of drama and lyrical phrase. The recording captures the sound of the flute very effectively. The solo works are as ingenious as Bachís works for solo instruments at giving a sense of counterpoint and harmony in a single line but, of course, are much closer to the Romantic in spirit.

Paul Shoemaker

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