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Adam FALCKENHAGEN (1697-1754)
6 Flute Concertos Op 4 (publ. 1742)
Concerto I in E major [13:31]
Concerto II in A major [13:05]
Concerto III in D major [14:07]
Concerto IV in G major [18:06]
Concerto V in G minor [15:45]
Concerto VI in G minor [13:08]
Sabine Dreier (flute)
Agustin Maruri (guitar)
Michael Kevin Jones (cello)
rec. February 1996, Jesus and Mary College Concert Hall, Madrid
EMEC E-014/015 [40:43 + 46:59]

Adam Falckenhagen was a German lutenist and composer born in Gro▀-D÷lzig, near Leipzig in Saxony, but spent the later part of his life in Bayreuth. Here he found favour with Wilhelmine of Prussia, Margravine of Bayreuth. Wilhelmine was a lutenist and sister of Frederick the Great, and she invited him to be court lutenist. Falckenhagen held this position until his death. Published in 1742, these Concerti Op 4 belong in this Bayreuth period but they were dedicated to a former patron Duke Ernst August, reflecting a life travelling from court to court in the employ of a variety of noble families.

These works are not concertos in the sense we understand the word today, at least in the sense of their being composed for somewhat larger forces than the trio we find here. Falckenhagen had used this instrumentation before in his Op 3, but only the lute part of this has survived. These Concerti are all in four-movement forms, mostly with a slow polonese third movement and using minuet and trio to round everything off. There is plenty of variety between movements and between each piece, with cheerful brilliance in the first two, and a more ‘galant’ style emerging later on. The flute part has a clear solo function, but as a lute player Falckenhagen also gives the plucked strings plenty to do; for instance, in the second movement of Concerto II where its solo function rivals and even eclipses the flute. The cello is there mostly to add harmonic support and weight to the bass line.

These works are known to have been popular in their day, and hearing them now this is easy to believe. Falckenhagen has an easy and relaxed facility with melody, and each movement has its own features of entertainment and individuality of character. There is nobility and beauty to be found as well as wit and good humour, and while there isn’t anything that is likely to shake your world to its foundations the instrumentation with guitar is unusual and the whole thing is a very pleasant listen indeed. There is no attempt at using historic instruments, but the performances are idiomatic and sensitive. The recording is nicely enough balanced and as a world premiŔre there can be few complaints about having these amiable pieces available for discovery.

Dominy Clements

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