The Complete Flute Sonatas

Hyperion CDA67278
1 CD
full price
Recorded in 2001.
Released in 2001.

Sonata in G major HWV 363b (Op 1 No 5)
Sonata in E minor HWV 379 (Op 1 No 1a)
Sonata in B minor HWV 367b (Op 1 No 9b)
Sonata in E minor HWV 359b (Op 1 No lb)
Sonata in A minor HWV 374 (Halle Sonata No 1)
Sonata in E minor HWV 375 (Halle Sonata No 2)
Sonata in B minor HWV 376 (Halle Sonata No 3)
Sonata in D major HWV 378

Lisa Beznosiuk (traverso)
Richard Tunnicliffe (violoncello)
Paul Nicholson (harpsichord)



According to Hyperion, "Handel's so-called 'Opus 1' is a mish-mash of fifteen sonatas for various instruments cobbled together by an unscrupulous publisher in Handel's lifetime to take advantage of his name. Some of them may or may not be by Handel, although all of the music is fine and interesting. Four of the sonatas are for flute and they were recorded and issued in 1995 along with the rest of 'Opus 1' on Hyperion CDA66921/3, together with three so-called 'Halle' flute sonatas, making seven in all. All of these are on this CD, together with yet another Handel flute sonata which was discovered as recently as the 1980s and which we have recorded since the issue of the earlier set. This disc therefore gives us all eight of Handel's known flute sonatas."

Like Andrew Manze's recent recording of Handel's "complete" Violin Sonatas, the new warmly recorded Hyperion performances are a commendable but complicated enterprise. The murky historical context of the sonatas is efficiently explained in booklet notes by Stanley Sadie - a regular Handel reviewer for Gramophone and General Editor of the New Grove Dictionary of Music. Many of the sources of Handel's sonatas contradict each other about instrumentation, but Sadie observes that "Handel may not have intended every one of them to be heard in this form, but it would take an austere purism quite foreign to his time and its modes of thought to imagine that he would have found anything to object to."

Even if not all of these performances are "new" recordings, the collection is a welcome reminder of the artistry of both the composer and his modern day interpreters. Lisa Beznosiuk's flute playing is masterful, and the continuo support from Richard Tunnicliffe and Paul Nicholson is consistently engaging. The music can seem repetitive after an hour, but of course, such repertoire was not intended to be comprehensively sampled during one intense session. Perhaps a disc to be dipped into from time to time for maximum effect. 

David Vickers - November 2001

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