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CD: Crotchet

Gasparo (Kaspar) FRITZ (1716-1783)
Flute Sonatas Op. II (published 1742-1772)
Sonata I in C [09:06]
Sonata II in D [10:37]
Sonata III in A [08:25]
Sonata IV in e minor [10:04]
Sonata V in D [06:40]
Sonata VI in G [08:34]
Claire Genewein (transverse flute); Maya Amrein (cello); Nicoleta Paraschivescu (harpsichord)
rec. 13-15 October 2008, Church of Mathalen, Switzerland. DDD
GUILD GMCD7330 [53:33]

Experience Classicsonline

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 di chiesa 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.

Jonathan Woolf

see also review by Johan van Veen



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