Handel: Complete Sonatas for Flute and Continuo

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COMPOSERS: Handel
LABELS: Kevin Mayhew
ALBUM TITLE: Handel
WORKS: Complete Sonatas for Flute and Continuo
PERFORMER: Paul Edmund-Davies (flute), John Alley
(harpsichord), Tim Hugh (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 1490170
The word ‘complete’ always strikes

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a cautionary note with me. Here is

a two-CD release of the ‘Complete

Flute Sonatas’ of Handel. At first

glance, it does indeed look complete

with its roster of 11 works; but here

Paul Edmund-Davies omits one in

D major (HWV 378) unequivocally

for transverse flute. If it has been

omitted on grounds of doubtful

authenticity then three others here,

HWV 374-6, sometimes called

Hallenser Sonatas on the grounds

that they were compositions of

Handel’s youth, should have been

as well. Happily for us, they have

survived the axe, for each and every

one of the Sonatas in this recital is

nothing other than a pure delight.

Edmund-Davies’s Baroque

performing style, somewhat

disregarding of punctuation,

harks back to a mid-20th century

performing style but is, perhaps,

none the worse for that. Slow

movements are declaimed in lengthy

legato phrases which give the music

a serene nobility. Faster movements,

for the most part, are delivered in

a spirit of lively caprice, though

the Andante of the E minor Sonata

(HWV 379) feels earthbound owing

to extended legato phrase contours

in both flute and cello lines. Apart

from such differences of opinion, I

found much to enjoy in Edmund-

Davies’s recital. Heaven forfend

that this repertoire should become

the exclusive preserve of period

instrumentalists. Recorded sound

is excellent, though the omission of

any movement headings both in the

booklet and on the outer covers is

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disgraceful. Nicholas Anderson.