Henrik Wiese

Bach: Flötensonaten

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Bach's sonatas for flute and harpsichord (or flute and continuo) have an appealing combination of outward lightness and steely conceptual rigor. In broad outlines they fall into conventional forms of the Italian Baroque instrumental sonata, but the conventional relationship between solo instrument and accompaniment is pulled in every possible direction, with the keyboardist plunking along in chords, generating rumbling quasi-orchestral ritornelli, engaging in high-stakes counterpoint with the flute, or seeming to inhabit almost a different world. They must be among Bach's most difficult works for the performers, for the flutist must maintain an effortless virtuoso flair while at the same time keeping a real sense of ensemble with the accompanying player or players. This is accomplished spectacularly by Austrian-born flutist Henrik Wiese, along with harpsichordist Anikó Soltész and, in a couple of pieces, cellist Yves Savary. Recorded in 2000 for the Freiburger Musik Forum and reissued in 2010 by the Ars Musici label, this is simply one of the best modern-instrument versions of these works available. Wiese's flute makes a fine partner to the bright (unidentified) harpdischord played by Soltész, and the momentum in these works never flags. His playing is vivacious, clean, and possessed of a fine feel for Bach's harmonic and contrapuntal complexities. The album includes one reconstruction and one arrangement; the first movement of the Flute Sonata in A major, BWV 1032, left in an incomplete state by Bach for unknown reasons, is completed by Wiese, who also arranged the trio sonata from the Musical Offering, BWV 1079, for flute and keyboard, a reasonable decision in view of the fact that Bach didn't hesitate to arrange trio sonatas for other media, even if fooling with the Musical Offering takes a bit of nerve. The sound from a studio at Berlin Radio is top-notch. Booklet notes are in English and German; they contain some unnecessary revelations of personal synaesthesia from Wiese, but the man's paid to play, not to write.

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