JC & JS Bach, Haydn, Hoffmeister & Pleyel

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COMPOSERS: Haydn,Hoffmeister & Pleyel,JC & JS Bach
LABELS: London Independent Records
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Age of Elegance
WORKS: Music for flute & strings
PERFORMER: Galeazzi Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: LIR 001 (distr. 020 8447 3862; www.london-independent.co.uk)
Thanks above all to the examples of Frederick the Great and George III, the flute was all the rage with 18th-century gentlemen amateurs. Here the Galeazzi Ensemble – British despite its Italian name – recreates an evening’s domestic music-making c1790, with assorted flute quartets and, for ‘learned contrast’, a string trio arrangement of the D sharp minor fugue from Book 1 of Bach’s ‘48’, plus an original prelude, both probably, though not definitely, by Mozart. There’s also a question mark over the early ‘Haydn’ flute quartet here, though this cheery, concisely argued piece certainly suggests the young composer in its resource and sense of fun. Of the other quartets, the JC Bach is typically suave and mellifluous, the Hoffmeister full of amiable clichés and mildly diverting virtuosity. More inventive is the quartet by Pleyel, a talented pupil of Haydn’s who develops his ideas neatly and puts some of his master’s tricks – joke pauses, false endings and so on – to witty use of his own. Led by the nimble flautist Lesley Holliday, the Galeazzi plays this charming, if hardly revelatory, music with style and skill, phrasing deftly and relishing the elegant banter between flute and strings. Richard Wigmore