Notes and Editorial Reviews
Although Johann Adolphe Scheibe and Morten Raehs are not exactly household names today, they were among the many hardworking composers whose works made worthy contributions to the vibrant musical fabric of the 18th century. As stylistic models of the flute music of the period, the five sonatas presented on this disc show affinities with the likes of Quantz, Telemann, and C.P.E Bach, among others. The reasons for these two composers' current relegation to the confines of specialist musicological circles are not surprising: the works on this program display nothing more than finely crafted sonatas whose charming little melodies and flashy technical fingerwork were designed to ensure excitement for contemporary listeners. However, as with the
innumerable works for flute from this period, these pieces make for some pleasant afternoon diversions, helped along by the rich, even tone of Maria Bania's transverse flute.
Scheibe's sonatas are really duos for harpsichord and flute, as the former is accorded equal weight in the melodic structure and there's plenty of give-and-take in the various "echo" effects in some of the movements. For those who can discern such things, "excessive" counterpoint and complex chords are kept to a minimum, pointing up the two "unique" items in Scheibe's sonatas (viz. a critical rebellion against Bach's "exaggerated" polyphony and a desire to give the continuo part some more zing). Of all the 12 movements spanning the three sonatas, the winsome Affetuoso of the B minor sonata intrigues the most. Bania and Mortensen together capture a serenade-like quality, aided by the thoughtful shift in the harpsichord stops to effect a more guitar-like timbre.
Raehs' sonatas are the more utilitarian of the bunch, in that they are mostly tailored to showcase the flutist's--in this case most likely the composer's--technical skills. The Meneutto con variazioni of the D major sonata is a tour de force of rippling scales, arpeggios, and leaps--a tough assignment for any flutist and especially challenging to bring off on a period instrument. Bania negotiates these complications with aplomb and grace, although she is forced once or twice to spit out the very highest notes, those apparently at the very limits of what these flutes could produce. All in all, this is an attractive aural morsel that rescues these composers from anonymity.
--Michael Liebowitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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