Music for solo flute
Toru TAKEMITSU (1930-1996) Air (1996) [8:20]; Younghi PAGH-PAAN (b.1945) Dreisam-Nore (1975) [7:12]; Kazuo FUKUSHIMA (b.1930) Mei (1962) [5:08]; Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963) Acht Stücke (1927) [6:59]; Sigfrid KARG-ELERT (1877-1933) Sonata appassionata Op. 140 [4:42]; Johann Anton STAMITZ (1717-1757) Capriccio-Sonata in A major [8:11]; C.P.E. BACH (1714-1788) Sonata in A minor Wq 132 (1758) [11:04]; J.S. BACH (1685-1750) Partita in A minor BWV 1013 [13:30]
Hansgeorg Schmeiser (flute)
rec. 9-12 July 1996, Nimbus Foundation Concert Hall, UK. DDD
NIMBUS NI5522 [66:00]
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 the registers.
This is a well produced and enjoyable disc, with Schmeiser demonstrating his ability to perform a range of musical styles effectively and with understanding.
A well produced and enjoyable disc, with Schmeiser demonstrating his ability to perform a range of musical styles effectively and with understanding.