Luisa Sello / Johannes Jess-Kropfitsch

Biedermeier

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Gottlob Biedermeier, like Yankee Doodle, was a fictitious and satirical figure who ended up being adopted as a cultural point of pride, albeit still with a bit of fun-poking. The word Biedermeier, broadly speaking, stands for German culture between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the revolutions of 1848. It connotes classic proportions, elegance, light wit, and a certain bourgeois conservatism, all qualities appearing in abundance in the four works recorded on this Italian release. Flutist Luisa Sello and pianist Johannes Jess Kropfitsch have unearthed some rare works, including the Pot-Pourri of Johann Peter Pixis and the Grand Duo, Op. 63, of Frédéric Kalkbrenner, that have never been recorded before. Take the program for what it is, and it's fun. The best, at least technically, is saved for last: the four-section first movement of the Kalkbrenner duo is a fine specimen of that composer's imposing, slightly overblown style, and it's idiomatically written for the flute. The low point, oddly, is the Chopin set of variations on a theme from Rossini's La Cenerentola, an at least partly inauthentic youthful work that exposes Sello's wavering flute line in unpleasant ways. The Czerny Duo Concertante, Op. 129, contains the spirit of the album in its essence. The work sounds just about like anyone who has slogged through Czerny's piano exercises would expect it to sound, but the long flute and piano runs expertly woven together, take cute turns instead of finishing off straight. There aren't any real finds here, but the program introduces music a Viennese or Berlin concert program of 1830 might have included. The disc has numerous applications: it could work well in the presentations of many plays of the nineteenth century, for example.

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