Quantz: ‘For His Majesty’s Pleasure’: Sonatas and pieces for flute, viola da gamba and harpsichord

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COMPOSERS: Quantz
LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: ‘For His Majesty’s Pleasure’: Sonatas and pieces for flute, viola da gamba and harpsichord
PERFORMER: Badinage
CATALOGUE NO: CDE 84364
If, like me, you’re a one-time flute student who was reluctantly fed on a seemingly endless diet of Quantz flute sonatas, then the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth may not seem cause for celebration. But help is at hand for Quantzphobes in a new collection from Chandos. Flautist Rachel Brown has chosen seven of his most appealing sonatas, many of them including finely-wrought, lyrical slow movements alongside the stock showpieces. Brown is a gifted musician, and her admirable technique enables her to draw an array of colours and shades from this soft-voiced instrument – a copy of Quantz’s two-keyed flute. Above all, she has an intuitive sense of line and pacing, and is ably accompanied by James Johnstone and Mark Caudle. The disc also includes a rarity: an arrangement of a short Minuet played on the beguilingly dark-toned, and beguilingly named, flute d’amour.

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There is also much to enjoy in the Quantz collection played by Badinage, which, in addition to the accompanied sonatas, offers several works for solo flute. Paul Carroll negotiates the former with great facility, and there’s some neat harpsichord playing by David Rowland. But the unaccompanied works are more cruelly exposed, and Carroll’s Baroque flute does not always respond to the challenge. Badinage has a tendency to play Quantz’s fast movements with a somewhat four-square rigidity – with the result that the music fails to take wing. Nor are the group’s efforts helped by the harsh recorded sound and inaccurate track listings: clearly, I am not alone in my inability to distinguish one Quantz flute sonata from another. Kate Bolton