Notes and Editorial Reviews
Flute Sonatas: in F,
QV 1: 161;
Verena Fischer (fl); Klaus-Dieter Brandt (vc); Léon Berben (hpd) (period instruments)
8.557805 (63: 28)
Johann Joachim Quantz (1697–1773) lived long and prospered. He was born near Göttingen, Germany, and died in Potsdam, but not before distinguishing himself as a flute teacher, flute maker, and composer at the court of Frederick the Great of Prussia, and not before he had written a treatise on flute playing, made important innovations in flute design, and wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 flute concertos. If Quantz wrote anything other than concertos for solo flute, it would be another dozen or so concertos for two flutes, over 360 flute sonatas, some 50 trio sonatas with—you guessed it—flute, duets for flute, fantasias for flute (my keyboard has learned to type “flute” all by itself), capriccios for flute, and—not for flute—an oboe sonata, a handful of concertos for horn and for trumpet, and about three-dozen German Lieder. Needless to say, a real passion for the flute is a prerequisite to appreciating Quantz. That eliminates Mozart, and apologetically, yours truly. I don’t have an actual aversion to the instrument; it’s just that I’m not hog-wild crazy about it.
Nonetheless, if I had to listen to over an hour’s worth of Quantz’s flute sonatas, I cannot think of another recording I’d rather listen to than this one, probably because I’ve never heard another one, my sole Quantz recording being Rachel Brown’s Hyperion disc of five concertos.
Verena Fischer’s transverse flute is not identified, but it’s clear from the booklet photo that it’s made of wood. Otherwise, it doesn’t sound that much different from a modern metal flute. Perhaps more important than what the instrument is made of is Fischer’s manner and style of playing it, for she is a relatively recent convert to the cause, her prior credentials having been earned playing modern flute in modern-instrument ensembles, namely, the German Youth Philharmonic under Lorin Maazel, Charles Dutoit, and Gary Bertini. She also served two years as principal flutist in the Southwest German Philharmonic and the Würzburg Philharmonic orchestras. Taking up study of the Baroque flute under Barthold Kuijken and others, she quickly advanced to become principal flutist of Reinhard Goebel’s Musica Antiqua Köln.
Fischer’s technique is astounding. She tosses off Quantz’s acrobatic runs and roulades with the aplomb of an Olympics figure skater executing a perfect Axel jump. Readers will have to forgive me for expecting the worst of period-instrument performances, but of late I’ve been exposed to some shockingly bad ones. So, it’s with that in mind when I say that it is Fischer’s manner and style of playing, rather than the sound of her instrument, that color her performances closer to modern than what I tend to think of as period-instrument sound. Likewise, Klaus-Dieter Brandt is said to be playing a Baroque cello. But his part is more typical of the doubling of the left hand of the harpsichord in the Baroque trio sonata, not affording him that much opportunity to strut his stuff. I don’t think one would necessarily conclude he was playing anything other than a modern cello, if the CD cover didn’t’ say so.
Some of these sonatas can be heard in other period-instrument recordings, most notably the B?-Major, which is played by Fischer’s teacher, Barthold Kuijken, along with Bob van Asperen on Sony’s Vivarte series, and also in a recording by Rachel Brown on Chandos’s Chaconne label. I can’t say that I’ve heard either of them, but this new one with Fischer, Brandt, and Berben is fantastic. If any recording can make a flute lover out of me, this one is a strong candidate. Quantz’s music is tremendously imaginative, ever inventive, and infectiously enchanting. Most assuredly recommended.
FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
Works on This Recording
Be the first to review this title