Barocking Together

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Handel,JS Bach & Telemann
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Flute Sonatas by Handel, JS Bach & Telemann
PERFORMER: Sharon Bezaly (flute), Charles Medlam (bass viol), Terence Charlston (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1689

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Sharon Bezaly has a formidable reputation: a BBC New Generation Artist, earning other international titles, and with 20 recordings on BIS including several award-winners. She plays a 24-carat gold flute on which she displays brilliant finger technique and seemingly interminable breath-control thanks to circular breathing – playing from a mouthful of air while inhaling through the nose. At best, this hard-won facility is amazing: heavenly phrasing in the Andante of Bach’s E minor sonata; sustaining tied notes in the finale of BWV1031 where mere mortals would snatch a gasping breath. Fast movements are effortless, and enlivened by lively tempos and high-spirited decorations. Terence Charlston’s reconstruction of missing staves in Bach’s A major Sonata is specially welcome. The marriage between 21st century flute and period instruments – gamba and harpsichord – isn’t wholly convincing in tone, or in interpretative detail as flute and both gamba and harpsichord disagree on the style of ornaments when in close imitation. A difficult acoustic creates a wash of distant harpsichord in the pieces with continuo. In the quasi-trio sonatas with harpsichord alone, its right-hand duetting with flute, the balance is closer and better. Attractively produced (bar a Handel movement out of order), this reveals a prodigious musical talent, and enjoyable ‘barocking’ if not, stylistically, unequivocally ‘together’. George Pratt