Complete Flute Sonatas
MDG 311 1078-2
Recorded in 2001.
Released in 2001.
Sonata in D major HWV 378
Sonata in E minor HWV 379 (Op 1 No 1a)
Sonata in B minor HWV 367b (Op 1 No 9b)
Sonata in G major HWV 363b (Op 1 No 5)
Sonata in E minor HWV 359b (Op 1 No lb)
Konrad Hünteler (traverso)
Rainer Zipperling (violoncello / viola da gamba)
Carsten Lohff (harpsichord)
Recordings of Handel's chamber music have to be judged on two levels: 1) have the performers used a good edition of the music, so that they play the right notes, and even the right works? 2) do they play them well, with a proper sense of baroque style?
On both counts this recording is a triumph. However, Handel wrote only two original sonatas for the transverse flute, HWV 378 (c.1707) and HWV 379 (c.1728). In 1731-2 the London music publisher John Walsh produced his "Opus 1" set of Handel sonatas, and this included three more sonatas which had been composed for other instruments in other keys, but were transposed by Walsh into suitable keys for the flute, presumably in order to improve the sales potential of the edition. These arrangements were HWV 359b, 363b, and 367b. There is no harm in continuing to play these works as flute sonatas, as long as everyone is aware of their history.
The liner notes, by Annette Landgraf, give accurate information based on the latest research, and the players have used a good edition (although two rogue Walsh readings, one in HWV 363b and one in HWV 359b, have slipped in); so full marks here.
The playing is also of the finest quality. The sound of Konrad Hünteler's Denner flute of c.1720, played with great expression and fullness of tone, is ravishing, and he uses a sensible ornamentation where it is required. Harpsichordist Carsten Lohff accompanies unobtrusively, and Rainer Zipperling plays both cello and viola da gamba (although the use of the latter, in HWV 367b and 363b, is not shown on the disc or on the case, only in the booklet) with considerable virtuosity and a fine sense of balance. The sonatas are all first-rate Handel, and the recording matches this quality in all respects. Highly recommended.
© Terence Best - April 2002
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