Thursday, January 31, 2013

In review--Flurry of notes



Classical
Andrea Oliva
Angela Hewitt
Bach Flute Sonatas
Hyperion Records 



I feel pleased to start out a new year with the enchanting Bach Flute Sonatas performed by pianist Angela Hewitt and flutist Andrea Oliva.  Out of all the Bach recordings I have heard, I don’t recall hearing tranverse flute (at least not in a sonata setting), but I have heard plenty of recorders.  Towards the end of Bach’s life, the tranverse flute replaced recorders, even though recorders of various types still exist in our time.  As always, questions revolve around the compositions, whether or not Bach co-composed them or if they were written for transverse flute or oboe as in the case with the Sonata in G minor, which might Bach might have co-composed with his son C P E Bach.  Whatever the history is behind the flute sonatas, Oliva and Hewitt breathe a fresh of new air into them.  The original musicians would have played the sonatas on piano and a baroque era flute anyway.  
The recording opens with Sonata in E flat major which opens at a medium tempo with piano trills and then the flute dances around the piano, ending up in a delightful musical conversation.  A mirthful feeling radiates and I can’t imagine anyone feeling sad around this piece.  Even the slower movements with the 6 sonatas uplift and in some instances, relax the mind.  Personally, I have played this music in the background while performing work that takes a great deal of focus and concentration.  I have also listened to this recording before falling asleep and I have slept better than I have in weeks.

The Siciliano movement of Sonata in E flat major is a piece that would send anyone into a place of sweet dreams.  It is followed by the Allegro movement which shows off dexterity of both musicians.  The Adagio ma non tanto of Sonata in E minor feels melancholic, but the beauty of the instruments balances out the mood, and the high notes of the flute could help in releasing any stuck emotions.  The Allegro gives the flutist plenty of room to show off glittering passages, which we know as listeners took plenty of rehearsals to finesse even if the musician sails through the tangle of notes.  Similar to Mozart, Bach enjoyed composing music for virtuoso players up for the challenge of his architectural wonders.

Sonata in G minor, Sonata in C major, Sonata in E Major and Sonata in B minor for flute round out the recording.  The entire CD runs 78 minutes and while you could play it the background, it’s best to listen to the sonatas through headphones and drink in the beauty of each note as it lingers, especially with the slower movements.  I recommend listening to this music with breakfast or during a time when you feel like slowing down.  Looking for enchanting baroque music? This is it.

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