J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Chamber Music for the Flute

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Jean-Claude Gérard
Soloists:Jean-Claude Gérard, Flute
Daniel Blumenthal, piano
Sergio Azzolini, bassoon
Walter Forchert, violin
Davide Formisano, flute
Boris Kleiner, pianoforte
Individual Works:Disc 1:

Sonata (Trio) in G Major for two flues and bass continuo, BWV 1039
Partita in A Minor for flute solo, BWV 1013
Sonata in E Major for flute and bass continuo, BWV 1035
Sonata in E Minor for flute and bass continuo, BWV 1034
Sonata in C Major for flute solo, BWV 1033
Sonata in G Major for flute, violin and bass continuo, BWV 1038

Disc 2:

Sonata in B Minor for flute and obligato keyboard, BWV 1030
Sonata in A Major for flute and obligato keyboard, BWV 1032
Sonata in G Minor for flute and obligato keyboard, BWV 1020
Sonata in E flat Major for flue and obligato keyboard, BWV 1031
Suite in C Minor for flute and obligato keyboard, BWV 997

Record Label:Hanssler
Year Released/Recorded:1999
Total Playing Time:Disc 1: 73:39
Disc 2: 74:58
Total: 2'28'37
Comments:This recording is Volume 121 of the Hänssler Complete Edition Bachakademie.

Review by Jan Hanford:

Performance: extraordinary
Recording: outstanding

This is the best performance of these works I have ever heard. One reason is that the harpsichord has been replaced by piano and the cello replaced by bassoon. Don't misunderstand me, I do love the other recordings I have with harpsichord. But this fresh approach of using piano and the unique and wonderful choice of bassoon for the bass line is an extraordinary listening experience. For me, it was like hearing these works for the first time. The clarity of the melodic lines and the interaction of the flute and the piano reveals nuances not easily heard on harpsichord. Not only the instrumentation is extraordinary, the performances are outstanding. Beautiful phrasing and dynamics; I found the performance breathtaking. This recording is excellent on so many levels that it has risen to the top of my collection of these works as my favorite.

The use of piano and bassoon, instead of harpsichord and cello, is controversial. The liner notes explain the reasons they chose these instruments. I feel their reasons are sound and do not believe that Bach need only be played on historically accurate instruments that reflect the time during which the music was written. It's been hundreds of years and performing this incredibly beautiful music on the modern flute and piano is not only an option but, frankly, it is a breath of fresh air.

Another unusual aspect to this recording is the absence of the continuo for the Sonata in C Major, BWV 1033, making it a second sonata for solo flute where traditionally there has only been the one in A Minor, BWV 1013. The liner notes explain that they believe that it was Carl Philip Emanuel Bach who added the keyboard part and, therefore, for this recording they decided to restore it to be a solo sonata. And a welcome decision it is because the sonata sounds completely different when played by solo flute.

Also included is BWV 997 which is considered one of the Lute Suites. Once again, the explanation is detailed in the liner notes which are extensive and very informative.

This recording presents performances so beautiful and moving that I give it my highest recomendation. The Bach-elitists may scoff but the rest of us Bach-lovers can take delight in its unique instrumental combination and outstanding interpretive beauty.

Acknowledgements:From the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:12/19/1999
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