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Niels Peter JENSEN (1802-1846)
Duos for two flutes
Duo for two flutes in E minor, Op. 11 No. 2 [16:53]
Duo for two flutes in D major, Op. 4 No. 1 [18:45]
Duo for two flutes in F major, Op. 4 No. 3 [17:02]
Duo for two flutes in D minor, Op. 11 No. 3 [20:59]
Rune Most (flute); Marcelo Barboza (flute)
rec. 4-5 June, 2-3 October 2005, Johannes Larsen Museet, Kerteminde, Denmark. DDD
DACAPO 8.226029 [73:55]

 


This release from the Danish label Dacapo is the first recording of music from Niels Peter Jensen who was a well known composer in the Danish Golden Age. For many years Jensen’s music has been almost completely ignored. There’s no entry for him in the eminent Grove Music Online.

Copenhagen-born Jensen was born in 1802, contracting an eye infection as a baby and almost losing his eyesight. Aged ten he became blind and was admitted into the Royal Institute for the Blind where he was taught to play the flute.

He played flute with the Royal Danish Orchestra aged fifteen and continued to have lessons from eminent teachers such as August Wilhelm Hartmann on the organ and music theory from Friedrich Kuhlau. He secured the post as organist at the Skt. Petri Church which at the time was ground-breaking employment for a blind man in an official capacity in Denmark. Jensen became recognised as a highly respected teacher and his pupils included the composers Herman Løvenskjold, celebrated for the ballet La Sylphide, and Johan Peter Emilius Hartmann.

Jensen composed in a wide variety of genres although most of his works are for the flute. Notable are a flute concerto in A minor (c. 1830), two flute sonatas, opp. 6, 18, flute fantasias and variations, flute duets and flute trios. He also wrote ensemble works such as the Trio for flute, cello and clarinet, the Quintet for flute and strings and a Trio for flute, violin and viola. A number of Jensen’s flute works did get published which kept his name alive for some years. However, in the twentieth-century his music lay virtually forgotten. Some twenty-five scores were given opus numbers but to find actual dates for Jensen's music is rare.

This release comprises four duos for two flutes - demanding works evincing solid craftsmanship. I note that Jensen composed these duos mainly in a retrospective Classical style, containing late-Baroque elements. To assist interest and appeal Jensen is careful to share some of the principal material in the scores with the second flute. One notices that the Opp. 4 and 11 sets contain various similarities. All four scores feature a sonata-form opening movement, have a slow central movement in ¾ time and a Rondo finale, yet Jensen gives each duet its own individual character.

Rune Most from Denmark and Brazilian Marcello Barboza prove outstanding performers in this repertoire. Most plays a wooden instrument built by Howell Roberts in 1998 and Barboza a wooden flute by Philipp Hammig from 1988.

In the opening score, a J.S. Bach-like Duo in E minor, Most and Barboza provide a generally tranquil mood with distinct undercurrents of sorrow in the opening Allegro and central Adagio. I especially enjoyed their buoyant playing of the exuberant and memorable final Rondo.
 
The mood changes with the sunny and lively D major Duo with a particularly bright and vivacious opening movement. With such assured and persuasive playing the highly entertaining Rondo finale is a joy to hear.

In the attractive Duo in F major the central movement marked Menuetto moderato is noteworthy as an authentic Minuet containing a Trio section. I loved the convincing playing in the exuberant finale Allegro di molto, a movement cast in sonata-form, that just gushes with high-spirits.

The final work on the disc is the remarkable D minor Duo with a spectacular final Allegro - a movement marked by an abundance of contrapuntal writing. Most and Barboza demonstrate their affinity for the music with a performance that is splendidly fresh and alive.     

A beautifully recorded, performed and presented release from Dacapo. Jensen’s music deserves further investigation so I am on the lookout for new releases. 

Michael Cookson  

 


 


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