Fiery and Sublime: The Sources of Quantz's Inspiration

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The music on this album, sunny in mood and mostly in major keys, does not sound fiery and sublime to the modern listener. But the intent of the historical-performance group La Ricordanza is to put the listener into the frame of mind in which the courtiers of Frederick the Great of Prussia would have heard this music in the middle of the 18th century. In this the group succeeds, even if "the sources of Quantz's inspiration" as a subtitle makes the disc sound as though it's of exclusively academic interest. It's more fun than that, and even if it's not fiery and sublime, the fast movements of the Quantz pieces are inventively structured so that the flute soloist first lays out relatively conventional galant material and then subjects it to brisk figuration that would have allowed the soloist, likely Quantz himself, to show his stuff. The program offers a recently discovered Quantz flute concerto and a trio sonata for the rare and delightful combination of recorder and flute; check out the third movement of the Concerto à 5 in D major, QV 5:45, for an example of the virtuoso flute writing and also for a nifty instrumental effect. The other pieces are French and German works, the "sources of inspiration" mentioned in the subtitle, and the international chamber group La Ricordanza shows convincingly how Quantz borrowed something from each and formed an assured, cosmopolitan style. Almost forgotten today, he was among the most successful German composers of the middle 18th century, and his music, even if it sometimes substitutes effect for inspiration, deserves to be more widely heard. Flawless sound from the MDG engineering team, working in a former abbey farmhouse, is an attraction for audiophile listeners in itself.

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