Saverio Mercadante

Flute Concerto in E minor, Op. 57

    Description by Andrew Lindemann Malone

    Saverio Mercadante gained success and renown as an operatic composer during his lifetime, but at present, his best-known work is a student work, the Flute Concerto No. 2 in E minor, Op. 57. Dating from 1813, when he was studying at the conservatory at Naples, it is modeled on a French concerto of the day but displays an effortless Italianate lyricism, confident use of the received forms, and even a few unexpected touches along the way. Listening to this concerto makes one wonder why the rest of Mercadante's output has been so neglected. The Allegro maestoso first movement belies its imposing title with its graceful first and second themes, which the flutist then elaborates in normal double-exposition sonata form. Mercadante's writing for the flute is idiomatic and is nicely highlighted by the strings-led accompaniment, lending credibility to the idea that Mercadante may have had himself in mind as the flute soloist. The development stretches the flutist's capacities even further, culminating in a long, wide-ranging cadenza before an uneventful recapitulation. Imposing minor chords open the Largo second movement, followed by jarring, angry rushes in the lower strings; the quiet transition from minor to major sounds like a snatching of victory from the jaws of defeat, and throws the warm, tastefully ornamented melodies of the following sonatina-form movement into greater relief. This work's fame, however, rests on its final movement, titled "Rondo russo: Allegro vivace scherzando." The Russian theme is piped by the flute with a bit of a galop to it, accompanied by sharp little chirps in the orchestra. This is an extremely catchy theme, and it is no surprise that Mercadante does not stray far from it, even incorporating bits of it into otherwise unrelated episodes as the rondo speeds towards its conclusion. The Flute Concerto No. 2 in E minor may not be an undiscovered masterwork, but it is eminently pleasing music, made by a composer whose works deserve wider circulation.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro maestoso
    2. Largo
    3. Rondo

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 Skarbo DSK 3148
    2015 Erato 0825646190423
    2014 Bella Musica BM 312454
    2013 Naxos 8572731
    2011 RCA Red Seal 88697828122
    2004 RCA Red Seal 82876608652
    2004 Dynamic 446/1-2
    2003 Arts Music 47584
    2003 Music Digital 28020
    2001 Brilliant 99745
    1999 RCA 63432
    1997 Arte Nova 74321 37313-2
    1996 Jecklin JD704-2
    1993 RCA Victor Red Seal 09026614472
    1993 Erato 93242
    1992 Erato 45838
    1991 Decca
    RCA 63437
    Polskie Nagrania 029
    Laserlight 14037
    Claves 509103
    Brilliant 974552
    Erato 55012
    Fonit-Cetra Italia 17
    RCA 60450
    LaserLight 15634