Fritz was Swiss-born in 1716 and is obscure. His career was centred
on Geneva, city of his birth. These flute sonatas were written
essentially for the amateur
market of the day. As a footnote it’s interesting that editions of Fritz’s
music should be so geographically far flung but he did dedicate an awful lot
of his works to foreigners.
The Op.II Flute sonatas were published over a wide period of time; some three
decades in fact. They look to models for the violin, such as the sonatas of Locatelli,
whilst also showing sure awareness of the solo works of Bach. There is only one sonata
amongst the set of six and that is the A major (No.3) which is
perhaps a little surprising. Nevertheless with craft and architectural guile
Fritz fashions sonatas of genuine warmth and surety. Nothing truly earth shattering
happens but it’s clear that his neglect has been unwarranted and the performers
do great credit both to his legacy and their own subtlety and instrumental finesse
in bringing it to life.
A few examples will suffice. The Largo of No.1 reveals a debt to Bachian models
- it’s not the only movement to do so. The D major sonata has hints of
Locatelli and its athletic central Allegro tests technique (not found wanting
here). As so often it’s the finale, which embeds an aria and variations,
that is the most personable and fluent movement. There’s a delicious series
of brief variations, as well as some fine decorations, and a quite extended solo
role for harpsichord.
The best moments in that sonata di chiesa
are probably the charming arabesques
of the second movement and the sense of lightness and vivacity that are imparted
generally. The fourth sonata is one of the finest of the straight from the fluent
and fluid opening, through to the mini cadenza for harpsichord in the finale.
Here Fritz seems genuinely inspired. He brings a sense of fantasy to the writing
and to the exciting exchanges between flute and harpsichord which, allied to
textual variety, ensures that this sonata should have a life outside the confines
of the Op. II set. If the finale of the Fifth sonata, whilst deft, lacks the
ultimate in melodic distinction it’s always smiling and engaging. The same
goes for the variations in the Moderato finale. Here again, Fritz is found at
his most unbuttoned and imaginative.
Claire Genewein is the intrepid heroine of the disc, aided with great perspicacity
and musicality by Maya Amrein (cello) and harpsichordist Nicoleta Paraschivescu.
With helpful notes and a good, well-balanced recording these hitherto little
appreciated works have been given a fine send-off into the market-place.
see also review by Johan van Veen