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Flute - Greatest Works
CD 1
Antonio VIVALDI
(1678-1741)
Concerto in F major “La Tempesta di Mare” RV433 op. 10/1 [6.30]
FRIEDRICH II (1712-1786) Concerto No. 4 in D major [18:15]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Concerto No. 1 in G for flute K313 [25:32]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) Suite No. 2 in B minor BWV 1067 [21:47]

CD 2
Johann Sebastian BACH
(1685-1750)
Sonata No. 3 in E major BWV 1035 [13:27]
Johann Joachim QUANTZ (1697-1773)
Concerto G major QV5:174 [15:57]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Andante in C K315 [6:27]
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Sonata for Flute and Piano Op.164 [13:22]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918) Syrinx (1912) [2:54]
Jacques IBERT (1890-1962)
Concerto for Flute and Orchestra (1934) [19:08]

CD 1: [1-3] Eckhart Haupt (flute), Dresdener Barocksolisten/Peter Schreier; [4-6] Richard Waage (flute), Kammerorchester des Berliner Sinfonie-Orchesters/Hans-Peter Frank; [7-9] Johannes Walter (flute), Staatskapelle Dresden/Herbert Blomstedt; [10-16] Eberhard Grünenthal (flute), Kammerorchester Berlin/Helmut Koch.
CD 2: [1-4] Eckhart Haupt (flute), Siegfried Pank (Viola da Gamba), Christine Schornsheim (Harpsichord); [5-7] Johannes Walter (flute), Dresdener Kammersolisten; [8] Johannes Walter (flute), Staatskapelle Dresden/Herbert Blomstedt; [9-11] Werner Tast (flute), Siegfried Stöckigt (piano); [12] Johannes Walter (flute); [13-15] Johannes Walter (flute), Staatskappelle Dresden/Siegfried Kurz
rec. 1975-1995. digitally remastered
BERLIN CLASSICS 0012872BC [72:00 + 70:48] 

 

Experience Classicsonline


This two-disc set is a compilation of some of the most important works in the flute’s repertoire.  Ranging from concertos to solo pieces, with composers from Vivaldi to Ibert, it offers a good overview of the instrument’s capabilities. The set is well presented, although there is no information given in the sleeve-notes about any of the performers or the instruments they play. These range from baroque flute to modern flute, and possibly recorder, in the case of the Vivaldi concerto.

This performance of Vivaldi’s Concerto is certainly tempestuous, with an array of orchestral colour. The solo line is well handled, and does not indulge. The fast semi-quaver passages are sometimes rushed, particularly in the last movement. The dynamic range of the soloist is less than that provided by the accompaniment, perhaps due to the use of period instruments. 

Frederick the Great’s Concerto No. 4 is one of a number of works composed by the King of Prussia. He studied the flute and composition with Quantz and his court became an important cultural centre. His flute concertos are charming works, full of poise and dignity. The performance here is not the best I’ve heard - listen to Jost Nickel’s recording, among others - but it is nevertheless convincing. The baroque flute lacks the strength of tone of the modern instrument, particularly in the low register, and there is a marked difference in volume between the solo line and the orchestra. The slow movement is expressively played, and there is an impressive and well-written cadenza. The final movement is played with considerable charm and some lovely additional ornamentation. 

The orchestral playing in this recording of Mozart’s G major concerto has a sprightly feel, with much clarity and energy. The flute sound is a little muffled, but well phrased and musically expressive. There are numerous recordings of this work available - my favourite is William Bennett’s - and although this is a good performance, there is little to distinguish it from any of the others. The first movement cadenza is long and meandering and did not hold my interest. There is too much vibrato in the slow movement for my taste, which I found difficult to ignore. However, Johannes Walter has a good sense of line. The Rondo is altogether better; the energy of the work carries the movement along. The orchestral playing is excellent and highly enjoyable, and Walter phrases well. 

The opening of Bach’s Suite in B minor is dramatically played, with exaggerated rhythms and a strong orchestral sound, coloured by the solo flute. Although I am used to hearing double-dotted rhythms and a slightly faster tempo, this was nevertheless completely convincing as an alternative interpretation. The fugue is controlled and full of energy. The rest of the suite is well performed, with strength from the accompanying orchestra where required. There is also some wonderfully delicate playing at times. The famous Badinerie at the end of the suite is joyful and spirited, with the players resisting the temptation to hurry.

Bach’s Sonata in E major begins the second CD and it is performed by Eckhart Haupt with continuo accompaniment. The playing is light and deliberately phrased. Haupt plays with a smooth tone which is a delight to listen to. The fast movements are played with sensitivity and excellent control, while the slow movements are expressive and elegant. 

Quantz’s Concerto in G follows, with its bright and brisk first movement. The playing is accurate and contained, and captures the essence of the work well. The slow movement is expressively played, with some lovely ornamentation added to the solo line. The vibrato is once again a little distracting, but much less so than previously. The orchestral accompaniment is generally well played, and there are some lovely continuo moments in the slow movement. The finale opens with renewed vigour, and is full of character throughout, despite a slight tendency to rush. 

Following Mozart’s Andante in C - a piece I have never particularly enjoyed but is heard here in a reasonable version, despite the aforementioned vibrato - the mood changes completely as we are taken to twentieth century France and Poulenc’s famous Sonata. Although technically controlled, the overall sound is a little muffled; I suspect this is something to do with the production techniques rather than the playing. The first movement has charm; the second is a little pedestrian in places for my liking, but the finale had the required fireworks and was an enjoyable and dramatic performance. 

The recording of Syrinx here has added reverb, which is quite a change from the rest of the disc. I would describe this as a ‘traditional’ rendition, with many rhythmic departures from Debussy’s score. There is a point in the score where he asks for rubato; it is my opinion that by including this indication, he suggests the rest of the piece should be played without it. That said, this is an expressive performance which captures the atmosphere of the work. 

The opening of the Ibert concerto came as something of a shock after the tranquillity of Syrinx. This is a wonderful work, full of life, virtuoso display and wonderful harmonic shifts. The first movement is played with character, but there are some balance issues; the brass section seems extremely loud in the few moments in which they play, compared to the strings. There is also a slightly overpowering clarinet solo which drowns out the solo flute.  The articulation of the solo flute lacks clarity, and the whole movement feels a little like a battle of supremacy between the flute and the accompaniment. The second movement is generally better, although I would still have liked more of the flute in the balance. The movement as a whole has a sense of calm serenity, allowing Ibert’s wonderful harmonies to take center-stage. The third movement is rhythmically strong, fiery and spectacular, with a wonderful improvisatory interlude, which is capably performed and flowing. The flute playing is reasonable, but does not live up to the standards we have become accustomed to, thanks to superior artists such as Sharon Bezaly, Emmanuel Pahud and William Bennett. I have Susan Milan’s recording of this work and it is in an altogether different league from this.

To sum up, this set of discs provides an interesting introduction to the flute’s repertoire. The orchestral playing is generally good - at times better than that of the solo instrument - expressive and well-controlled in its accompanying role. Production standards are average. For me, however, the biggest disappointment was the flute playing. There are some good performances here, but I was dismayed to find that the player I liked least was playing on most of the pieces. I doubt this is a CD I’ll listen to much; there are some much better quality flute players who have recorded this kind of repertoire, and I would rather seek out other versions.

Carla Rees


 




 


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