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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791)
Sonata in F major K 376 (1781) [18:23]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 - 1827)
Serenade in D major Op. 41 (1803) [24:47]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797 - 1848)
Sonata for flute and piano (c.1819) [8:51]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 - 1828)
Introduction and Variations on ‘Trockne Blumen’ from Die schöne Müllerin, D802 (1824) [22:25]
Hansgeorg Schmeiser (flute), Matteo Fossi (piano)
rec. Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, UK, Mozart, Donizetti: 14 August 2011; Beethoven, Schubert: 5-6 March 2012
NIMBUS NI 5912 [74:38]

The lives of the four composers represented here more or less overlapped and Donizetti and Schubert were born the same year. Theirs is also the music originally written for flute and piano. Mozart declared openly that he didn’t like the sound of the flute but he still managed to write the delectable concerto for flute, harp and orchestra (K 299). The sonata opening this disc is one of the six for piano and violin that were published in 1781 as his Op. 2. It works well for flute but there is more ‘bite’ in the tone of a violin. I put on Henryk Szeryng and Ingrid Haebler immediately after and the dynamics are wider. Hansgeorg Schmeiser has brilliantly beautiful flute tone and plays the first movement with elegance and verve. In the andante the two instruments intertwine gracefully. The rondo finale could be a preliminary study for the aria Ein Mädchen or Weibchen from Die Zauberflöte. One gets the same open-air feeling. A very charming reading.
 
Beethoven’s Serenade is also an adaptation and much more through-going. This is an arrangement by Franz X. Kleinheinz from the serenade Op. 25 for flute, violin and viola. The opening Entrata is a bit pompous, but that’s rather typical for serenades. The second movement is a minuet with two trios, entertaining and virtuoso. Calum MacDonald in his liner-notes likens the third movement to ‘an operatic revenge aria’ - and I buy that. A noble andante hymn opens the central G major movement. In the presentation of the theme the flute sings beautifully. This is followed by three variations. A rather robust scherzo is followed by an adagio, which turns out to be the introduction to the rondo finale, an energetic, vigorous creation.
 
Donizetti’s sonata is a work from his relative youth, circa 1819. It is cast in one movement with a slow introduction followed by a substantial allegro, melodious and joyous, requiring a great deal of virtuosity from the players. Highly entertaining.
 
Schubert’s only composition for flute is the Variations on the song ‘Trockne Blumen’ from Die schöne Müllerin, written a couple of months after the song-cycle was finished, probably composed for his friend Ferdinand Bogner, professor of flute at the Vienna Conservatory. Whether Bogner played it is not known, but it was unpublished until 1850. Some commentators doubt that Bogner and Schubert collaborated at all, in that case Bogner should have instructed Schubert where the flautist needs to breathe. On the other hand it works excellently to play it on the violin, which could indicate that Schubert’s violinist brother Ferdinand helped him.
 
The long introduction only hints at the song, the theme then arrives first in the piano and is repeated by the flute. The variations then deviate a lot from the prevailing mood of the song, even though both works grow in intensity.
 
Variation III, slow and beautiful, spreads a kind of soothing comfort, while variation IV is stormy and defiant, like a protest against a bitter fate and ends almost jubilantly. Variation V goes on in the same vein, more virtuosic and dancing. Variation VI is milder but no less jubilant and in the finale we are marching towards the final apotheosis, something close to a revival hymn.
 
Whatever one’s reactions the playing is superb. Excellent recording and very informative liner notes. A disc not only for lovers of flute music.
 
Göran Forsling  



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