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Franz Anton HOFFMEISTER (1754-1812) Hoffmeister’s Magic Flute Volume I Quartet in c minor for flute, violin and cello, H.5929 [13:22]
Trio (Sonata) in B-flat for flute, violin and cello, Op.11/2 [15:25]
Duetto in G for flute and violin [14:00]
Trio (Sonata) in D for flute, violin and cello, Op.11/3 [11:25]
Flute Quintet in E-flat for flute, violin, two violas and cello, Op.3
Boris Bizjak (flute)
Lana Trotovšek (violin)
rec. 2019, St Nicholas Church, Thames Ditton, UK All first recordings
Reviewed as 24/96 press preview.
Hoffmeister’s music has received some attention on record, but we’re not
overwhelmed for choice, though his output was very considerable. My top
recommendation would be the volume devoted to his music in the Chandos
Contemporaries of Mozart series (CHAN10351, London Mozart Players/Matthias
– or CHUSB018, USB stick containing 24 albums – see
of release on two USB sticks, also still available).
The new Somm recording – promised as the first volume – brings us five of
his chamber works which are receiving the first recordings. I can’t claim
that anything here approaches the level of a masterpiece, but it’s all very
well crafted – ideal for soothing the furrowed brow after a trying day.
Although the flute is the constant factor in all the works, there’s a
degree of variety in the accompaniment. The longest work, the Flute
Quintet, Op.3, is scored for the unusual combination of flute, violin, two
violas and cello, with Michael Trainor, second violin of the Piatti
Quartet, switching to the viola here.
As a music publisher in Vienna, Hoffmeister counted Haydn, Mozart – a
fellow Freemason – and Beethoven among his clients, though his business
didn’t prosper. At its best, his music is at least reminiscent of Mozart,
but I imagine that if one played the Mozart Flute Quartets or his Concerto
for flute and harp immediately afterwards – I didn’t try it – the
difference in inspiration would be apparent. Despite the fact that he
supposedly disliked the flute, Mozart wrote some very fine music for it.
The booklet mentions the influence of the Sturm und Drang movement
on the opening quartet, H5929, but it’s fairly benign by comparison with
Haydn’s similarly influenced music; there’s rather more Enlightenment than
storm here. Indeed, Christopher Morley’s notes in general, while very
informative, do perhaps gild the Hoffmeister lily a little too much.
Not only is the music receiving its first recording, the principal
performers are fairly new to the recording studio – for both this is their
début with Somm. The flautist, Boris Bizjak, has not yet appeared in any of
our reviews, but he makes a good case for the music of Hoffmeister. Lana
Trotovšek has recently been recorded by another enterprising company,
Toccata Classics (Napravnik: Chamber Music Vol.1, TOCC0305). She is more at home with Hoffmeister than on the Napravnik
recording, where Jonathan Woolf reports that she is sometimes drowned by
the pianist, and rather lacking in romantic fervour –
Not too much fervour needed in Hoffmeister, though the performers rise to
the sometimes virtuosic demands.
The Piatti Quartet are more established recording artists; I liked their
recording of Mozart’s own arrangement of some of his early piano concertos for
piano and string quartet, with Gottlieb Wallisch the soloist (Linn CKD424 –
review), and they don’t disappoint here. (The Linn, though originally released on
SACD, now appears to be CD only, though some dealers still have the SACD
and there are 24-bit downloads from
Flute lovers may be more excited by a recent Channel Classics recording on
which Ashley Solomon plays a variety of wooden and ivory flutes from the
Spohr collection in music from a slightly earlier epoch (CCS43020 – review
pending). If you go for just one flute recording this month, that’s the one
to choose. The new Somm is also very attractive, however, albeit without
the interest of historical instruments – Bizjak is pictured in the booklet
with a modern flute.
Attractive, if hardly great, music, persuasively performed and well
recorded. My press preview came in 24-bit sound, but the CD should be