RECORDING OF THE MONTH
Johann Joachim QUANTZ (1697-1773)
Flute Sonata No. 272 in F major QV 1:93 [11:40]
Flute Sonata No. 273 in G major QV 1:109 [11:25]
Flute Sonata No. 274 in A major QV 1:145 [11:27]
Flute Sonata No. 275 in B flat major QV 1:161 [10:09]
Flute Sonata No. 276 in C minor QV 1:18 [8:17]
Flute Sonata No. 277 in D major QV 1:42 [10:02]
Verena Fischer (transverse flute); Klaus-Dieter Brandt (Baroque cello); Léon Berben (harpsichord)
rec. 15-17 November 2006, Kleiner Saal, Meistersingerhalle, Nürnberg, Germany. DDD
NAXOS 8.557805 [63:28]
Quantz was known both as a leading flute player and as a prolific composer. He worked from 1741 under the employ of Frederick the Great, who was himself a keen flute player. His output includes an important treatise on flute technique, as well as around three hundred concertos and over two hundred sonatas, although many of these have been lost today.
This is an excellent disc distinguished by a fine balance between parts. It has clearly been engineered with a good understanding of the nature of the tone qualities of these instruments. The tone is beautifully smooth and full of expressive nuance, and none of the subtleties are lost in this recording.
The Sonatas within this set are all in Fast-Slow-Fast form, with expressive slow movements and lively outers which often feature arpeggiated semiquaver movements in the flute part. Verena Fischer’s technique is always even and well controlled, and matched by her colleagues. The ornamentations are clear and precise, and there is a sense of delight and enjoyment in the playing.
The cheerful F major Sonata, No. 272 begins the set, played with an enjoyable lightness and energy. The last movement in particular has impressive gusto which really brings the music to life. The major key sonatas tend to follow a similar pattern, and are played with a sense of adventure; baroque sonatas can sometimes be associated with unimaginative playing, but not so here. This ensemble demonstrates a sense of craftsmanship and healthy musicianship.
I particularly enjoyed the sprightly opening of the A major sonata and its lilting Siciliana, which has a real sense of the dance. The short first movement of the B flat major sonata is heavier in the accompaniment and is eloquently serious, but with nimble flute lines which demonstrate the virtuoso capabilities of the transverse flute.
Only one sonata here is in a minor key: number 276 in C minor. The overall feeling is perhaps a little heavier, but the sprightly flute writing remains and so does the joyful mood. You can hear this especially in the central slow movement, which does not wallow or over-indulge but maintains a sense of expression.
This is a lovely disc which is enjoyable and of real quality from beginning to end.