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George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
The Complete Flute Sonatas

Sonata in G major HWV363b (Op 1 No 5)
Sonata in E minor HWV379 (Op 1 No 1a)
Sonata in B minor HWV367b (Op 1 No 9)
Sonata in E minor HWV359b (Op 1 No 1)
Sonata in A minor HWV374 (Halle Sonata No 1í)
Sonata in E minor HWV375 (Halle Sonata No 2í)
Sonata in B minor HWV376 (Halle Sonata No 3í)
Sonata in D major HWV378
Lisa Beznosiuk flute
Richard Tunnicliffe cello
Paul Nicholson harpsichord
Rec: June 1994 and January 2001.
HYPERION CDA67278 [72.30]

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Hyperionís web site gives the following information about this recording: "Handel's so-called 'Opus 1' is a mish-mash of fifteen sonatas for various instruments cobbled together by an unscrupulous publisher in Handel's lifetime to take advantage of his name. Some of them may or may not be by Handel, although all of the music is fine and interesting."

All of the works on this recording, with the exception of the final D major sonata, were originally issued in 1995 by Hyperion. The D major sonata, discovered in the 1980s, was recently recorded. This recording therefore contains all of Handelís eight flute sonatas, although it is not certain that he did, indeed, compose all of this music.

The slow movements of most of these sonatas are indeed slow; I hesitate to use the word boring, but they definitely sound like good candidates for nights of insomnia. The faster movements tend to be more interesting; the allegro of the first E minor sonata is a good example, as the flute jumps around in brisk, acrobatic melodies, which are truly attractive. The allegro of the second E minor sonata is similar; again, the flute jumps around, leaping in large intervals, and playing virtuoso runs. The combinations of such uninteresting slow movements and the more artful fast sections tends to flatten out the music. There is perhaps too much of a difference in tempo between the movements, but there is a strange feeling of incompleteness listening to these works.

Lisa Beznosiuk plays with grace and charm in the faster movements, but something about this music seems to temper her ardour; I cannot help think that she could inject far more energy into this music. Her instrument has a deep, rich sound, in the lower register, and a delightfully limpid sound in the higher end. Yet this cannot save me from tedium.

The overall sound of this recording is sober and not unforgettable. These works are not masterpieces, and, while they may interest Handel fans, or those who especially like the flute, there is little to recommend them to other, curious listeners.

Kirk McElhearn

 


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