Flute Music of France – CR3808


“The pair produced an evening of unforgettable music making.”

“They immediately established a close rapport with the large audience.”

“By their accomplished, tasteful playing and by the charm and wit of their introductions they consistently commanded the attention of the near capacity audience”

SKU: 3808 Categories: , ,


The finest flute Sonata in existence’ — Spitta wrote in his huge biography of J.S. Bach — the sonata in question is the B minor BWV 1030. This work for flute and obbligato harpsichord is Bach’s only sonata in this genre which exists in its entirety. Of Bach’s six sonatas published for flute, three are with bass continue, while of the others the Eb sonata is probably not by Bach and a section of the first movement of the A major has been lost.

The B minor sonata is of epic proportions, with a spacious first movement Andante which has such generous sharing of melodic material between the two instruments and wonderful dovetailing. Although paced at a gracious speed the music scarcely stops to draw breath anywhere except for two falterings — trilling into an imperfect cadence, and, near the conclusion of the movement, a hesitation into an interrupted cadence. The Largo has such a divine noble eloquence that the world almost ceases to exist but reality returns with the determined stride of the fugue. This gives way to the excited bustle of a gigue in twelve sixteen time with an off beat character that makes it slightly breathless.

Bach’s knowledge of the idiom and performance techniques of the flute are so perfectly portrayed in the B minor sonata that it seems an enigma to find only two rests throughout the four movements of the A minor Partita for solo flute (BWV 1013). How strange that the incessant flow of semiquavers in the first movement Allemande is interrupted only momentarily at two points. Even a player with gargantuan lungs has to disturb the sixty-five bar movement to breathe, although with care the wonderful melodic contours preserve their shape.

This work is sometimes known as Sonata, but Partita seems a more appropriate title for a set of four dance movements. The first three of these follow the traditional pattern of a Partita or Suite of the period—Allemande, Corrente and Sarabande: only slightly unusual is the Italian style Corrente, rather than Courante. The Sarabande has a slow noble character giving the soloist an opportunity for gracious ornamentation on the reprise. The finale — a Bourree anglaise — has a cheeky air with a syncopated feel in its offbeat long notes.

How extraordinary that no edition of this work exists without numerous misprints and that in the Sarabande the opening four bars are omitted when the material is repeated.

How many memories of the B minor Sonata are stirred on hearing the Suite in C minor. The Sarabande contains a bar which is an exact transposition of one in the Sonata’s Largo and the C minor’s Gigue has so much of the character of the finale of the B minor work.

There are other traits in the Suite which suggest Bach’s writing for the flute—the Preludio contains passages similar in style to the Allemande of the Partita: the theme of the fugue is the same as that used in the last movement of the Trio Sonata of The Musical Offering.

This suite, which is to be found in Volume 45 of the Bach Gesellschaft mainly containing music for unspecified instruments, is a wonderful vehicle for alt the technical and expressive qualities of both the flute and harpsichord—whatever the composer’s original intentions!

Dance metres and moods are important features of Handel’s Fitzwilliam Sonata in Bb major. A gentle Courante forms the first movement while the final allegro has the infectious lilt of the Gigue. Grand solemnity is provided by a brief dramatic central Adagio. The autograph of this sonata is preserved in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. Written during the composer’s travels in Italy, it gives evidence of Handel the borrower, as movements of this sonata were also used in the opera Scipio, an organ concerto and the A major violin Sonata.

Telemann, unlike Handel, was not such a blatant borrower of his own or other composers’ material, but, as was the practice of the time, many of his instrumental works were written for alternative instruments. The F minor Sonata on this recording was originally intended for bassoon but Telemann wrote at the beginning, ‘This solo may be played on the flute a bee’ (the recorder). Telemann’s music reached a larger and wider audience than Bach’s, partly because the former lived in the cosmopolitan seaport of Hamburg. Also, as well as his official church duties, Telemann had the opportunity to compose and perform a wide variety of chamber and orchestral music for various households. Furthermore he interested himself in music publishing regularly producing ‘Der Getreue Musikmeister’, collections of his own music. This F minor Sonata is one of a set of four for various instruments and continue published in this periodical and preserved in the Municipal Library, Leipzig. It retains the traditional four movement form (slow-fast-slow-fast) in contrast to Bach’s more forward looking three movement structure. Three of these movements portray a single characteristic — the first ‘Triste’ a noble grief, the third a languidly sighing Andante leading ‘attacca’ into the triumphant Vivace finale. Only the second movement ‘Allegro’ has contrast of moods, the gentler middle section offsetting the proud opening. This section is played ‘da capo’ allowing the soloist scope for ornamentation, a skill that was taken for granted in those days.

© Jane Dodd


Christopher Hyde-Smith and Jane Dodd, begun their regular musical partnership in 1984. The following year they were asked to play the complete works for flute and keyboard of Bach and Handel as part of the City of London Celebrations for the Tercentenary of the birth of these two composers. It seems appropriate, therefore, that their first record together should include three contrasted works of Hath coupled with a Sonata by Handel and one by Telemann who was four years their senior.

This husband and wife team has received critical acclaim for its concerts throughout the British Isles, France and Austria. Such comments have been:-

“The pair produced an evening of unforgettable music making.”

“They immediately established a close rapport with the large audience.”

“By their accomplished, tasteful playing and by the charm and wit of their introductions they consistently commanded the attention of the near capacity audience.

The Duo’s repertoire includes not only baroque music but also the rich and varied flute and piano repertoire, including the ”Mozart Flute Quartets” (CR36103-2). Their next record to be issued will be “Flute Music of France” (CR3808-2) to include music by Fauré, Saint-Saëns, Poulenc and Roussel and some shorter gems never previously recorded.