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"The London Flute"

Per Flauto

rec: Jan 5 - 7, 2012, Antwerp, AMUZ
deutsche harmonia mundi - 88691966552 ( 2013) (79'43")
Liner-notes: E/D/F
Cover & track-list

Robert CARR (fl c 1684-1687): Divisions on an Italian Ground for recorder and bcabc [1]; Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713): Sonata for recorder and bc in c minor (after Sonata in g minor, op. 5,5)abc; Charles DIEUPART (after 1667-c1740): Suite for voice flute and bc No. 1 in Aabc [2]; Francis FORCER (1649-1705): Chaconne for keyboard in e minorc; George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759): Sonata for recorder and bc in a minor (HWV 362)abc; Sonata for viola da gamba and bc in g minor (HWV 364b)bc; Jean-Baptiste (John) LOEILLET (1680-1730): Sonata for recorder and bc in d minor, op. 3,6abc [4]; Francesco MANCINI (1672-1737): Sonata for recorder and bc No. 4 in a minorabc [3]; James (Jacques) PAISIBLE (c1656-1721): Sonata for recorder and bc in Dabc; Andrew PARCHAM (?-?): Solo for recorder and bc in Gab; Henry PURCELL (1659-1695), arr anon: If Love's a Sweet Passion, arr for keyboardc

[1] John Playford, ed, The Delightful Companion, 1686; [2] Charles Dieupart, Six suittes, 1702; [3] Francesco Mancini, XII Solos, 17272; [4] Jean-Baptiste (John) Loeillet, 12 Solos, op. 3, 1729

Bart Coen, recorder, voice flutea; Nicholas Milne, viola da gambab; Herman Stinders, harpsichordc

London was one of the musical metropoles of Europe in the early decades of the 18th century. Musicians from across the continent came to the English capital to look for employment. The music scene in London has been the subject of many recordings. Bart Coen focuses on the music for recorder; he is not the first to do so, and he will not be the last. At this time the recorder was still a very popular instrument, especially among amateurs. As a result there is plenty to choose from if one wants to record a disc with recorder music.

Not all the composers represented on this disc have been in London themselves. Arcangelo Corelli and Francesco Mancini never left Italy, but their music disseminated across Europe. In England the works of Corelli were especially popular. The music historian Roger North wrote: "It is wonderfull to observe what a skratching of Correlli there is everywhere - nothing will relish but Corelli ...". His music wasn't only played in its original scoring, his famous sonatas for violin and bc op. 5 were regularly printed in arrangements for recorder. For this disc Bart Coen created his own arrangement of the Sonata V from this set. The Neapolitan Mancini is one of the relatively few Italian composers who wrote music for the recorder. Twelve of the 24 sonatas for recorder and strings which make up the so-called Manoscritto di Napoli 1725 are written by Mancini. These were recorded complete by Corina Marti and the Capella Tiberina, whereas Bart Coen selected three of them for his recording of sonatas from this manuscript. The Sonata IV in a minor is from a set of twelve which were published in London in 1724 as Solos for a violin or flute and reprinted in 1727; in that edition the violin isn't mentioned anymore. The first edition was dedicated to John Fleetwood Esq, who was the English Consul General to the Reign of Naples. It is perhaps this connection which resulted in the collection being printed in London. The complete set was recorded recently by the Ensemble Tripla Concordia.

Handel settled in London in 1712 and soon became the leading composer, in particular in the field of opera. However, his popularity also resulted in a huge demand for other kinds of music, such as sonatas for a melody instrument and keyboard music. Publishers satisfied this demand with editions of original sonatas and arrangements which often were not in line with Handel's intentions. As a result it is not easy to decide which sonatas were originally scored for recorder. One of them is the Sonata in a minor (HWV 362). Another immigrant was Jean-Baptiste Loeillet, a member of a dynasty of musicians, who is mostly called "John" in order to discern him from another Jean-Baptiste. The Sonata VI in d minor is the sixth from a set of twelve, printed as his op. 3 in London in 1729. The first six are for recorder, the others for the transverse flute. Charles Dieupart was from France and played an important role in the London music scene. The Suite I in A is from a set of six which was first printed in Amsterdam in a version for harpsichord, and reprinted there the next year in a scoring for violin or recorder and basso continuo.

English-born composers played a minor role in comparison to immigrants. A few are represented on this disc. Robert Carr was a menber of the King's Musick during the reign of Charles II. The Divisions on an Italian ground seems to be his only extant composition. It is written in a form which was quite popular in England in the 17th century. Andrew Parcham is also only known with one composition. To my surprise he has no entry in New Grove and on the internet I also couldn't find any biographical information. The third movement is notable in that it comprises a number of short contrasting sections.

Most music for recorder was written for the amateur market. The Sonata in D by James or Jacques Paisible, a player of the recorder and the oboe of French birth, is an exception. This piece, which the booklet claims to have been recorded here for the first time, is quite virtuosic, which undoubtedly reflects Paisible's own skills. A contemporary stated that his "equal is not to be found". He frequently participated in performances of theatre music. The sonata is not devoid of theatrical traits: the second movement, a presto, is followed attacca by an adagio.

The recorder music has been extended by three other pieces. The Sonata in g minor by Handel is scored for the viola da gamba and is an authentic adaptation of a sonata for violin. Henry Purcell arranged several solos from his vocal works for harpsichord. If Love's a Sweet Passion is from The Faery Queen and is played here in an anonymous arrangement from the so-called Babell manuscript. William Babell may have been responsible for this piece as he often adapted arias from Handel's operas. Francis Forcer was a composer and organist who also wrote music for the theatre. The Chaconne in e minor is also from the Babell manuscript and shows strong French influence.

In the above-mentioned recording of concertos by Mancini and others Bart Coen proved himself a brilliant and agile player. This disc once again bears witness to his qualities. These come to the fore, for instance, in the demanding sonata by Paisible. He adds stylish ornamentation, articulates well and clearly differentiates between stressed and unstressed notes. The tempi are always well-chosen. These interpretations have much drive, also thanks to the contributions of Nicholas Milne and Herman Stinders. The latter delivers nice contributions with the two harpsichord pieces, whereas Milne brings a fine performance of Handel's gamba sonata.

This is a highly entertaining disc, not only for recorder aficionados but for everyone who likes 80 minutes of splendid music.

Johan van Veen ( 2013)

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