Hansgeorg Schmeiser is originally from Graz, and now performs
as the principal flute of the Vienna Volksoper Orchestra, following
studies with Alain Marion in Paris and Wolfgang Schulz in Vienna.
This disc of works for solo flute comprises a range of repertoire
from the traditional - Bach and Stamitz - to the contemporary
- including Takemitsu and Fukushima. This serves to demonstrate
the scope of the flute’s range of expression and musical capabilities.
The liner-notes explain that each of the works has a link with
Germany, some of them with obvious connections, but others more
obscure, such as the works by Takemitsu and Fukushima.
Takemitsu’s Air opens the disc, a relatively simple work
which takes influence from Debussy as well as from Takemitsu’s
native Japanese culture. Schmeiser’s sound is rich and dark,
and one can detect the subtle characteristics of his platinum
flute. The music is well phrased and performed with a good understanding
of the pace of development and the importance of silence.
Younghi Pagh-Paan’s Dreisam-Nore features some soaring
high-register melodies and retains the Eastern style that can
be heard in Takemitsu, although with more pronounced effects,
such as quarter-tones and wide vibrato. Pagh-Paan is a Korean
composer who studied with Ferneyhough and Huber in Freiburg.
It is curious to think that Pagh-Paan is only a couple of years
younger than Ferneyhough, and that this work was composed in
the same year as Unity Capsule; the relative simplicity
of this work is a stark contrast to Ferneyhough’s, but is an
important part of its success. This is a beautiful piece, which
appears here in its first recording, and deserves wider exposure.
The third of the Eastern-influenced pieces is Fukushima’s Mei,
a frequently performed work which was composed in 1962 and features
a dramatic range of expression. Schmeiser’s performance is as
good as any I’ve heard, with a rich low register, yet bright
in the heights and with a good dynamic range. He captures the
style well, with shakuhachi-style attacks, glissandi and an
expressive tone. The end is particularly beautiful, played with
a hollow effect which is allowed to disappear into silence.
Hindemith’s Acht Stücke are short and full of character.
Each of the eight miniatures is well formed and has a sense
of controlled focus. Karg-Elert’s Sonata appassionata
shares the sense of concentration of language, and possesses
a display of technical virtuosity. The solo line contains both
a sense of melody and of harmony, and in that respect has connections
with Bach. This one movement piece is in ternary form, with
material from the opening recurring following a languid central
section. This is a good rendition, although there are a few
very minor technical imperfections. I would have liked a greater
sense of excitement towards the work’s final climax.
The Capriccio-Sonata by Johann Stamitz provides a stark
stylistic contrast, with the early Classical side feeling pure
and uncomplicated after the intensity of Karg-Elert and Hindemith.
Schmeiser’s phrases are nicely shaped, and there is an elegance
of the melodic line which comes through well. The central slow
movement is played with a particular sense of tenderness.
The disc ends with two of the most well-known unaccompanied
flute works, the sonatas by C.P.E. and J.S. Bach. Both works
are in A minor and have a wonderful sense of bass contour and
melody, especially in the opening movements. The C.P.E. Bach
sonata has three movements, in the form of a slow movement followed
by two allegros, while J.S.’s takes on more of the form of a
dance suite, with four movements. The playing is good, with
a lovely sense of style, and an evenness of tone throughout
This is a well produced and enjoyable disc, with Schmeiser demonstrating
his ability to perform a range of musical styles effectively
and with understanding.