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Concord of Sweet Sounds
Pietro LOCATELLI (1695-1764)

Sonata in G minor Op.2a No.3 [9:41]
Johann Sebastian BACH attrib. (1685-1750)
Sonata in C major BWV 1033 [8:50]
Carl Philipp Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)
Sonata in A minor W. 128 [9:56]
Mauro GIULIANI (1781-1829)

Gran Duetto Concertante Op. 52 [15:15]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Waltzes (from Op. 9) (arr. A. Diabelli) [3:45]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Potpourri (arr. A. Diabelli) [9:40]
Franz SCHUBERT

Waltzes (from Op. 9) (arr. A. Diabelli) [2:23]
Lisa Beznosiuk (One keyed boxwood flute, 8 keyed ebony flute)
Nigel North (13 course lute, 6 string guitar)
rec. Almondsbury Parish Church, nr. Bristol, UK November 1986
AMON RA CD-SAR 33 [60:02]

 

This ‘Concord of Sweet Sounds’ is, as the title suggests, a real sweetie of a disc; what the Dutch call a ‘snoepje’, a word which has been known to cause sane men almost to leave the country. I particularly wanted to hear this disc, having admired Lisa Beznosiuk’s playing with the English Concert under Trevor Pinnock, but also because I had lessons with her for a short time at the R.A.M. I think I must have been her worst student, swiftly realising how difficult it would be to manage all of those new fingerings and mastering the art of playing a perforated, hollowed-out branch in tune. I also had the disadvantage of being given the worst travesty of a traverso from the R.A.M. stock cupboard: a heavy, thick-walled black lump of tree with all the resonance of a wet sock. A bad workman blames his tools, yes, but even so the thing had what looked like chewing gum in some of the finger holes – someone’s attempt to coax the thing into some kind of very mean temperament. The case was a beautiful wooden box, but the contents inspired only the musical equivalent of baroque road-rage, which (for the uninitiated) manifests itself by severe handkerchief waving, incipient back trouble, a revolving wig and antique words like ‘domme’ muttered under the breath.

Enough warm nostalgia: this CD was recorded a year or so after the above memories became engrained into my musical experience, so our soloist apparently suffered no ill effects. For those of you unfamiliar with the sound of early flutes, think of the sound of a fairly large recorder – an alto or bass – but with more volume, greater expressive and dynamic range, and more flexibility in terms of tone forming in general. The elliptical, beautifully supple sound Beznosiuk makes is one you can listen to for a very long time indeed, and Nigel North’s accompaniments are equally sensitive and perfectly balanced.

The programme is also delightful. Locatelli’s light melodic touch never fails to please, and the famous Bach Sonata BWV 1033 shows Beznosiuk’s natural feel for colourful virtuoso articulation. The more intense expressive, emotional, sometimes even dramatic content of C.P.E. Bach’s Sonata W.128 makes for an excellent progression through the first half of the programme, and the impression that we should have had our interval coffee by the next piece is reinforced by a change of accompaniment. The Gran Duetto Concertante very much demands more ‘modern’ forces, and the guitar and 8 keyed flute bring us straight into a more romantic domain. The Menuetto in this piece is genuinely dance-like, and the final Rondo militaire give us some fine variations and opportunities for display from both instrumentalists. It is entirely appropriate, though unusual to hear Schubert and Beethoven in this instrumentation, and Anton Diabelli, being both a publisher and guitarist, saw mileage in arranging these great names to include his own instrument. Familiar tunes by Schubert for piano solo are transformed into delightful miniatures for duo which must be as much fun to play as to hear. The Beethoven Potpourri begins surprisingly with a fragment from the Pastoral Symphony, and cleverly becomes a game in which the listener is teased into guessing which piece might be being quoted – hits in Beethoven’s time, but a stretch for most casual listeners these days. The booklet notes by Nigel North are helpful in this regard.

This is a sheer joy of a disc: a large helping of seemingly unassuming musical jewels, but played and recorded in such a fragrant, musically responsive and subtly sensitive way that, when it finished, you just want to hit ‘play’ and start all over again.

Dominy Clements


 



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