WORKS: Flute Sonatas, Opp. 64, 69, 71, 83/1-3 & 85
PERFORMER: Eyvind Rafn (flute)Esther Vagning (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224071/72
Surprisingly, until this release, it was only the Dane Toke Lund Christiansen who could be heard playing Kuhlau’s flute sonatas on disc (Kontrapunkt), but now his compatriot, Eyvind Rafn, provides us with a second option on the interpretations of these classic, early Romantic sonatas.
While Rafn and his pianist Esther Vagning enter into the grandiose nature of Kuhlau’s Allegros with bravura, the overall result from both comes across as unpolished. Kuhlau’s lyricism and general merrymaking suffer under Rafn’s occasional, but obvious, clumsy phrase endings and squeaky-toned high-register runs; Vagning doesn’t help with the odd note scramble. That said, Rafn brings a delightful, simple earthiness to the folktunes so loved by Kuhlau and which he uses as the themes for variation in the sonatas in E flat, Op. 64 and in G, Op. 83/1.
Disappointingly, neither Christiansen nor Rafn do Kuhlau’s music complete justice, but of the two I would opt for Christiansen. His sound may be huskier, but undoubtedly he gives the more precise and thoughtful readings. Kuhlau deserves better. Kate Sherriff