Bach: Flute Sonatas Nos 1-2 & 4-6
In all her 15 discs of Bach’s keyboard works, Angela Hewitt has never tried merely to copy the character and techniques of harpsichord on the piano. Rather, she translates one to the other, capitalising on their differences and revealing the riches and limitations of both instruments. Andrea Oliva, her flute partner, takes the same approach. His modern silver flute has a glorious shimmering quality and an even tone, so it lacks the colourful contrasts between rich open notes and veiled cross-fingered ones characteristic of the wooden, one-keyed Baroque instrument.
The combination of these two sensitive artists creates some memorable moments. Best is the Sonata No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1030 with its meditative opening, each part drifting in, its harmony wandering as if at will, duplets gently merging into triplets and back again. The simplicity of the slow movement is entrancing.
At the other extreme, Oliva’s breath-control is astonishing (BWV 1034), Hewitt’s clean articulation exemplary. Hyperion’s recording with flautist Lisa Beznosiuk and harpsichordist Paul Nicholson (CDD 22077) makes a fascinating period-instrument comparison, but this is an inspired modern-instrument take on Bach.