Mikael Beier

Crusell, Devienne, Krommer, Mozart: Flute Quartets

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This two-disc release makes very little sense as a set, but it combines two individual albums from the early '80s that each contained unusual material. The first album now occupies all of the first disc and the first five tracks of the second. It was one of the first releases to take up the carefully crafted, rather conservative chamber music of the Swede Bernhard Henrik Crusell and the Bohemian Franz Krommer (or Frantisek Kramar), both of whom have received more frequent performances since the turn of the century. These readings by the Copenhagen String Trio, with flutist Mikael Beier, can stand with any of the later ones, featuring expert intonation and ensemble. The most attractive feature is the combination of these rather sober pieces with the brilliant Quatuor Concertante in G major of French composer François Devienne and the light, seductive flute quartets of Mozart. The listener emerges with a feel for the various ways the flute was used during the Classical period. The second of the original albums features flute and piano, which makes for quite a lurch here when the combination begins in the middle of the second disc. But this program too is attractive, combining pieces known partly because they were composed by big names (Fauré, Chopin) with virtually unknown repertory, mostly French. Virtuoso pieces like the Grand Solo, Op. 96, of Jean-Louis Tulou alternate with lyrical pieces and exotic works like the Rumanian Dances from Bihar of the twentieth century composer Ferenc Farkas. All are great fun and were once part of the common repertoire of flutists but were discarded for no very good reason other than the inflated seriousness of modernist curricula. The early CD-era sound has held up well. Probably of most interest to flutists, but nowhere less than pleasant for general listeners.

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