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Friedrich KUHLAU (1786-1832) Grande Sonate concertante, Op. 35
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) Introduction and Variations on "Trockne Blumen"
Franz SCHUBERT (1787-1828) arr. Leopold JANSA (1795–1875) 6 Lieder: Ständchen; Der Lindenbaum; Das Fischermädchen; Die Tauben post; Am Meer; Gute Nacht
duo cantabile
Hans-Jörg Wegner (flute)
Christiane Kroeker (piano)
Recorded October 2002, NDR, Landesfunkhaus Nds. Kleiner Sendesaal
THOROFON CTH 2476 [77.00]



Friedrich Kuhlau was an exact contemporary of Weber, being born in 1786, and a friend and (on one famous occasion, blurred in memory) drinking partner of Beethoven. His music is of that age, with something of Beethoven in serenade vein and a touch of Weber’s ear for unusual instrumental timbres. The ‘Grande Sonate Concertante’ Opus 85 dates from 1827 and is the last of several sonatas composed for flute and piano. The work is fluent and charming and has all the classical virtues, but for 1827 it is rather conservative.

Schubert’s ‘Variations on Trockne Blumen’ D802, op. posth. 160, is a mystery work. It is his only work for flute and piano but we know very little about its composition. Written in 1824, the manuscript is much corrected, indicating that a lot of care has gone into it. The melody is from the 18th song in ‘Die Schöne Müllerin’ and the song associates lost love with awareness of approaching death. The work has caused some disagreement among commentators as some people feel that the message of the song sits ill with a set of virtuoso variations. However, if you leave aside these considerations, then it is an easy-going and attractive work; Schubert creates a fascinating play between the virtuoso passages and the more romantic, dramatic elements.

The Viennese violinist Leopold Jansa created a large number of arrangements for flute or violin and piano. This group of Schubert songs were copied out for the flautist, Theobald Boehm and for many years it was thought that these arrangements were made by Boehm. Jansa’s changes to the songs are all rather small scale; embellishments to the melody line; some new stanzas; new interludes. What he has managed to do is transform a vocal part into an attractive flute part. Something is lost along the way, but these are undeniably attractive works - though I think that the resulting pieces are probably more suitable for their original purpose of communal music making than for being listened to on disc. Too often I missed the depth that a fine lieder singer could bring to the songs. Without the linking of text to music, the flute was too often reduced to attractive decoration.

Wegner and Kroeker play elegantly and gracefully, and Wegner has a pleasant warm tone. This disc will be attractive to those who love fine flute playing, but you cannot help feeling that the flute has been rather short changed when it comes to great romantic music. There is something undeniably cool and classical about the timbre of the flute. It does not form a major component in the major chamber works from the Romantic period and the result is, unfortunately, that discs such as this one must be content with attractive, fluent petits maitres such as Kuhlau.

Robert Hugill


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