Sharon Bezaly

Barocking Together

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Buyers should note that the Swedish pun in this album's title doesn't work in English; the title Barocking Together suggests a Baroque-rock fusion, but this is a program of straight Baroque music, mostly by Bach. Further, of the four Bach flute sonatas on the program, one (the Flute Sonata in E flat major, BWV 1031) is probably by C.P.E. Bach, and another is a partially lost work completed by a later (and unnamed) composer. With these cautions out of the way, this music is a lot of fun. Sweden's BIS label has made an international impact with its stable of brilliantly talented and charismatic young instrumentalists, of whom the Israeli-born flutist Sharon Bezaly is one. Mostly Bezaly and her associates have been deployed in attractive virtuoso works of the early twentieth century, displaced from the repertory by a tight-lipped arrogance that disguised itself as musical modernism. This disc of Baroque pieces is unusual in the BIS catalog and announces a desire to compete with specialists in the historical-instrument field; Bezaly's accompanists here, harpsichordist Terence Charlston and bass viol player Charles Medlam, are early music veterans, but Bezaly does not play an early transverse flute. The combination works nicely. The program of one sonata by Handel, four by Bach (or ostensibly by Bach), and one short one by Telemann may seem a bit arbitrary, but it has a logic: the French-style, suite-like Handel sonata serves as a light overture of dances before the meaty complexities and considerable technical difficulties of the Bach, with the simpler Telemann bringing down the curtain at the end. The musical complexities reach their peak in the Flute Sonata in E major, BWV 1035, a late Bach work that contains some really startling harmonic moves, all without recourse to heavy chromaticism. Bezaly brings her own playful personality to the music without losing sight of its density, and her control of long line, aided by circular breathing, is as compelling in Baroque music as in Ibert. Where the disc stands apart from many of its low-budget historical competitors is in the sound; recorded at the Warehouse in London, the engineering captures even small details of Bezaly's breathing techniques. Recommended both for anyone who likes music for the flute and for the Baroque hardcore.

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