Flute music by female composers
Anna Amalia von PREUSSEN (1723-1787)
Flute sonata (1756) [9:01] ¹
Anna Bon di VENEZIA (c.1739-c.1767)
Flute Sonata in G Op.1 No.6 (1756) [9:41] ¹
Leopoldine BLAHETKA (1809-1887)
Introduction and variations for flute and piano Op.39 (c.1835) [8:29]
Cécile CHAMINADE (1857-19440
Sérénade aux Étoiles for flute and piano Op.142 (1911) [4:30]
Mélanie BONIS (1858-1937)
Pièce for flute and piano Op.189 [3:38]
Germaine TAILLEFERRE (1892-1984)
Forlane, for flute and piano (1972) [2:22]
Lili BOULANGER (1893-1918)
Nocturne (1911) [2:49]
Barbara HELLER (b. 1936)
Parlando, for flute and piano (1993) [3:37]
Gloria COATES (b.1938)
Phantom for flute and piano (1998 rev 2004) [5:22]
Dorothee EBERHARDT (b.1952)
Träume, for flute and piano (1983 rev 2004) [3:36]
Caroline ANSINK (b.1959)
Epitaph for Marius (2002) [5:13]
Annette SCHLÜNZ (b.1964)
tastend, tränend for flute and piano (2001) [6:04]
Christine K. BRÜCKNER (b.1967)
Tsetono, for flute and piano (2004) [3:06]
Elisabeth Weinzierl (flute)
Eva Schieferstein (piano)
Philipp von Morgen (cello) ¹
rec. January 2010, Petruskirche Munchen-Solln, and December 2010 Bavarian Music Academy Marktoberdorf
THOROFON CTH 2577 [68:11]
I’m sure some will view a selection of music composed for flute exclusively by women composers as something of a cul-de-sac. Certainly the baroque-to-contemporary programme wears a comprehensive cast, as if presenting a female lineage of sorts. But this, surely, is deceptive. Acknowledging the self-limiting nature of the works, and not wishing to intrude on the sexual politics of the disc, I think it’s best to stick to the music.
The senior composer is Anna Amalia von Preussen, the youngest sister of Frederick the Great - whose prowess on the flute is well-known and to whom her sonata is dedicated. She was a musician and collector - her manuscript library was extensive and included works by Palestrina, Bach and Haydn - and her sonata is predicated on elegance. It has a courtly refinement, topped by a bright, engaging finale. Anna Bon di Venezia is rather more obscure. She was probably born in Venice, moved to Bayreuth, and became something of a court composer, dedicating her c.1756 Op.1 Flute sonatas to the Margrave Friedrich, the royal, flute-playing husband of Wilhelmine of Bayreuth. He was clearly adept at fast trills because di Venezia tests him with a succession of them, in her genial and highly pleasing sonata.
One possible reason for pushing the female line in this disc is the reclamation of court-associated women composers such as these. A different career however is represented by the piano wunderkind Leopoldine Blahetka, who was born near Vienna in 1809. Her name is suspiciously Czech-sounding, so maybe she was part of the Bohemian diaspora. In any case it was on Beethoven’s recommendation, apparently, that she studied piano with Joseph Czerny, and later began a career as an admired performer and later teacher. Her Introduction and variations for flute and piano was written in the mid 1830s and is very listenable. She includes an operatic ‘scena’ as well as Rossini-like badinage and vitality in the faster variations. It’s a vibrant work, well worth hearing.
From here we enter the twentieth century via Chaminade’s Sérénade, a confident work, quite well known these days, and full of charm. Melanie Bonis was another French composer, and one who was encouraged by Franck and studied with Debussy. Her Pièce is free-flowing and evocative, as is the far-more-famous Lili Boulanger’s Nocturne, which brings with it an increase in the temperature in the Gallic hothouse. Germaine Tailleferre offers a baroque-slanting Forlane that moves off to more harmonically questing lines before returning to its point of origin.
The remainder of the disc is devoted to contemporary composers. Barbara Heller’s Parlando is spare and well constructed. Gloria Coates, like everything I’ve heard of hers, tries too hard in Phantom. The flutter tonguing adds timbre, as do the jazz elements, but they don’t add up to as much as the composer wants. Dutch composer Caroline Ansink’s Epitaph for Marius was written for Marius Flothuis and is gently elegiac, sectional, contrasting faster and slower sections. tastend, tränend by Dorothee Eberhardt is modishly lower-case, very spare, and full of chiaroscuro. We end with the light, lyric grace of Christine Brückner’s Tsetono.
This distaff survey will - potentially - irritate for its selection criteria, but does offer an unusually wide-ranging repertoire, extremely well played and well recorded.
Jonathan Woolf
This distaff survey offers an unusually wide-ranging repertoire, extremely well played and well recorded.