CPE Bach: Flute Concerto in A, Wq 168; Flute Concerto in D minor, Wq 22; Flute Concerto in G, Wg 169

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COMPOSERS: CPE Bach
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Flute Concerto in A, Wq 168; Flute Concerto in D minor, Wq 22; Flute Concerto in G, Wg 169
PERFORMER: Rachel Brown (flute); Brandenburg Consort/Roy Goodman
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67226
By all accounts Frederick the Great was an accomplished flautist – for a king – and specialised in the soulful performance of Adagios. Which may be a tactful way of saying his technique was often stretched in faster music. Certainly, it is hard to imagine Frederick emerging unscathed in, say, the furious, driving outer movements of the D minor, or the fiery, angular gigue that closes the A major Concerto. The king, though, would no doubt have relished Bach’s slow movements, with their aching appoggiaturas and characteristic ‘Empfindsamkeit’ – ‘heightened sensibility’. Playing on a soft-toned wooden Quantz flute, of the kind Frederick would have used, Rachel Brown gives performances it would be hard to better. Her agility and articulation are breathtaking (try the finale of the D minor), her phrasing and colouring always imaginative, her embellishments apt and tasteful (18th-century buzzword). She and the hyper-alert orchestra realise all the highly strung volatility of Allegros and bring a rhapsodic freedom to the brooding slow movements. A fine period-instrument version of these exhilarating concertos appeared last year from Martin Feinstein (Black Box). But Rachel Brown matches him in virtuosity and finds an altogether more personal, troubled expressiveness in the slow movements. Richard Wigmore

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