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COMPOSERS: Agrell/Scheibe/Hasse
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Flute Concertos
PERFORMER: Maria Bania, Irene Spranger (flutes) Concerto Copenhagen/Andrew Manze
This enterprising CD comprises four early to mid-18th-century flute concertos, three of which have never been recorded, and all of which were discovered on the island of Lolland in Denmark in 1991.


Each poses a healthy alternative to Vivaldi, Telemann or JS Bach, but this disc mainly bridges the gap between past masters of the Baroque concerto and CPE Bach of the early Classical era.

The Concerto in D by Swedish composer Johan Joachim Agrell (1701-65) contains many Vivaldi variants, particularly noticeable in the buoyant Presto with its sequences of bird-like twitterings. The Poco andante, however, embraces the flute’s sensuality, using ornamentation as a vehicle for expression, rather than unrelieved decoration. Maria Bania on period-style flute lets sustained notes ooze and swell in the middle movements of both the Agrell and the more lugubrious Andante in Johann Adolph Scheibe’s Concerto in A.


The second concerto by Scheibe (1708-76) is performed by flautist Irene Spranger. Scheibe is more sophisticated in his dealings with the solo line, using a lighter accompanying orchestration that gives the soloist prominence as well as support. The final concerto is by Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783), a prolific opera composer. Imitative interplay between soloist and ensemble, plus Hasse’s use of dramatic, experimental orchestral effects, give Concerto Copenhagen, directed by Andrew Manze, the opportunity to exploit its impressive dynamic range. Both soloists and the period-instrument ensemble capture the changing spirits of each concerto, bouncing ideas off each other with particular panache. Kate Sherriff