Notes and Editorial Reviews
Viola Sonatas: in C, D, G, c,
op. 2/4–6, 8.
Viola Sonata in C.
Sonata in g,
Kathryn Steely (va); Vincent de Vries (hpd); Adrienne Steely (vc)
MSR 1379 (51:11)
William Flackton was an English composer whose entire life (1709–98) was spent at Canterbury, where he also kept shop as a bookseller
and stationer. He was the principal organizer of public concerts in Canterbury for much of his life. Although it was reported that church music by Flackton was sung in Canterbury Cathedral and copied into the choir books there, none of that music survives. Most of his surviving music is secular, although 31 hymns and two anthems also are among his surviving works.
In 1770, Flackton published his op. 2, six sonatas, three for cello and three for viola. In the preface to this publication, Flackton stressed the need to increase the repertoire of solo music for the viola, stating his wish “to shew that instrument in a more conspicuous manner, than it has hitherto been accustomed.” In 1776, a second edition added two sonatas, one each for cello and viola. Two sonatas are in the traditional church sonata mode of slow-fast-slow-fast and two are in three movements, slow-fast-minuet. The final movements of all four sonatas consist of one or two minuets, some with variations.
Flackton’s late-Baroque style was rather outdated by the time these sonatas were published, but that need not bother us. What is important is that the music is unfailingly tuneful and engaging, written with what the
terms “considerable individuality and expressive power. … All his string music testifies to the regard of his contemporaries for his ‘refined and elegant taste.’”
Handel’s Sonata in G Minor was written for oboe and continuo; the author of the notes claims (and I have no reason to dispute it) that Handel’s manuscript contains several bars written an octave lower and an indication that the solo instrument line could be given to viola da gamba. The Sonata in C by Abel is from a set of sonatas for viola da gamba and continuo.
I was not previously acquainted with any of the performers on this disc. The violist, Kathryn Steely, and harpsichordist, Vincent de Vries, are teaching professors of their instruments who have performed widely; Adrienne Steely, a student cellist, is the daughter of Kathryn Steely. Adrienne accompanies her mother in the Abel sonata, while de Vries partners the violist in the other five works.
The performers are technically proficient, making Flackton’s lovely music the center of attention, as it should be. Nothing is exaggerated; tempos are well chosen. The program is very attractive and well recorded. Anyone looking to explore the byways of late Baroque chamber music will find this disc a delight.
FANFARE: Ron Salemi
Works on This Recording
Sonata for cello & continuo in A major, WKO 148 by Karl Friedrich Abel
Kathryn Steely (Viola),
Adrienne Steely (Cello)
Written: after 1783
Date of Recording: 09/11/2010
Venue: McLean Foyer of Meditation, Armstrong Br
Length: 3 Minutes 31 Secs.
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