Bach: Flute Sonatas

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Glossa
WORKS: Flute Sonatas
PERFORMER: Wilbert Hazelzet (flute), Jacques Ogg (harpsichord, fortepiano), Jaap ter Linden (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: GCD 920807
Hard on the heels of Lisa Beznosiuk’s fine recording of Bach’s flute sonatas on Hyperion (reviewed in July) comes this one from the Dutch flautist Wilbert Hazelzet. Both players have very sensibly included the sonatas of doubtful authenticity as well as the undisputed products of Bach’s pen. But, even so, there are small divergences. While Beznosiuk chose, in addition, the Trio Sonata for two flutes (BWV 1039), Hazelzet has opted for the C minor Trio Sonata for flute, violin and keyboard from The Musical Offering (BWV 1079). Sadly, he has omitted the beautiful, unaccompanied A minor Partita (BWV 1013), which few readers will want to dispense with and which Beznosiuk plays so alluringly. And, surprisingly, he has chosen to include a G major Violin Sonata (BWV 1021), which was in all likelihood completed by hands other than Bach’s.

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Among the various artistic and interpretative distinctions between the two recordings, one is radical and concerns instrumentation. Unlike most of his rivals, Hazelzet prefers a fortepiano to a harpsichord to partner him in three of the sonatas (BWV 1031, 1035 and 1079). Two of these are late works, whose idiom lends itself to the newly emerging instrument, while the other (BWV 1031) – though probably not entirely, if at all, a genuine Bach piece – is unequivocal in its galant, Berlin-school inflections.

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Hazelzet’s playing is warm-toned and technically accomplished. He brings many characteristic insights to the music and I liked his choice of a reconstruction by Gerrit de Marez Oyens of the missing 46 bars of the A major Sonata’s opening movement. But the continuo sonatas are sometimes too weighed down by the accompaniment and here, certainly, Beznosiuk’s performances assume greater airiness. Elsewhere, I preferred Paul Nicholson’s relaxed obbligato keyboard-playing to that of Jacques Ogg which, though imposing, is harder driven. A stimulating release, all the same. Nicholas Anderson