Flute Quartets Nos 1-4
Sami Junnonen (flute); Chamber Domaine
Resonus RES 10216 50:28 mins
Mozart disliked the 18th century flute, but a paid commission was not to be sniffed at. When a flute-playing surgeon in Mannheim offered a considerable sum in 1777 for a whole clutch of flute pieces, he duly set to work. In the event, he was obliged to return half the fee since he only completed the three-movement Quartet No. 1 in D major, K285, and two movements of the Quartet in G major, K285a, which may or may not constitute the complete work.
When he returned to the flute quartet line-up three or four years later, the Quartet No. 3 in C major, K.Anh.171 (K285b) again emerged as just two movements – the second of them either a sketch for, or arrangement of, the variations in the great Gran Partita wind serenade, K361. And the Quartet No. 4 in A major composed around 1787 is something of a joke piece, borrowing themes from rival composers and giving a comically pedantic tempo indication for its finale. High-level entertainment music, then; though, as such, the D major quartet is certainly a minor masterpiece of the genre, with a plaintive minor-key Adagio for flute and pizzicato strings that attains a genuine touch of pathos. The Finnish flautist Sami Junnonen and his three string colleagues of Chamber Domaine play them straightforwardly for what they are: clean modern flute technique with not too much vibrato; crisp or suave string ensemble according to musical character – all recorded with bright immediacy. Other performances may be subtler, but this will give much pleasure.