Bach: Flute Sonatas (complete)

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Flute Sonatas (complete)
PERFORMER: Lisa Beznosiuk, Rachel Brown (flute), Paul Nicholson (harpsichord), Richard Tunnicliffe (cello), Elizabeth Kenny (archlute)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67264-65
Six flute sonatas – three with continuo and three with obbligato harpsichord – are generally associated with Bach’s name; yet only four, with the addition of a Partita for unaccompanied flute, are undisputed products of his pen. But each, whether genuine or of doubtful authenticity, is a work of immense charm and individual character, notwithstanding variation in quality. Lisa Beznosiuk has very wisely included all of them in her recital, as well as another (BWV 1020) of very doubtful authenticity and less consistently identified with the flute, and a Trio Sonata for two flutes (BWV 1039) in which she is partnered by Rachel Brown.

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Beznosiuk’s main rivals at the moment are Stephen Preston (CRD), Janet See (Harmonia Mundi), Barthold Kuijken (BMG) and, much more recently, Karl Kaiser (Dabringhaus und Grimm). All these, with small discrepancies, explore the same basic repertoire and feature the warm, woody sound of a Baroque transverse flute. Warmest, woodiest and most alluring of them all is, to my ears, that of the new entry to the list. The character of Beznosiuk’s instrument is effectively conveyed by a sympathetic recording acoustic but of immeasurably greater importance is the playing of Beznosiuk herself, which is unfailingly thoughtful, eloquently inflected and sensible of the music’s poetry. There is, in short, a delicacy about her playing and a musical integrity which outstrips the many virtues of a notably strong field of rivals. This is expressive and technical virtuosity of the highest order, qualities which are shared by Paul Nicholson, her equal partner in three of the sonatas, and by the corporate body of the continuo. An outstanding achievement.