Veronika Oross / Angelika Csizmadia / Kousay H. Mahdi Kadduri

Georg & Franz Benda: Flute Sonatas

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The court of Frederick the Great in Berlin has been musically associated mostly with the career of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, yet that prosperous establishment employed a host of other composers and musicians. This release from the Hungaroton label is one of a number to have taken up the Berlin repertory. Included are flute sonatas by two Bohemian brothers, Georg and Franz Benda, discovered in Danish archive. No date of composition is surmised, but they presumably come from around the middle of the 18th century. It's hard to point on the basis of these sonatas to a distinction in the style of one brother or the other; all are well-made, sunny works that are idiomatically written for the transverse flute. Each is in three movements: the first slow, the second a fast piece in the new Classical style, with varied harmonic rhythm (rate of chord change), and the third, although only one is so marked, either a minuet or a gigue, except for the final piece, a kind of Rigaudon. They lie right on the borderline between Baroque and Classical. The chief Baroque element is a harpsichord-and-cello continuo, indicated in the source only by an unfigured bass line. The continuo seems to work at cross purposes with the exciting climaxes in the fast movements, yet it is hard to imagine how else this line might be realized. The instruments are apparently modern -- that played by Kousay Mahdi is designated as a Baroque cello, but it was built in 1929, when there was not really any such thing -- but the performances are lively and idiomatic. Flutist Veronika Oross is especially effective in the opening slow movements, which are full binary structures with the ornaments for the flutist written out. This has made the Bendas' compositions interesting for those who study performance practice, and it seems likely that specialists will make up the primary audience for this release, but it's enjoyable enough for anyone. Booklet notes are in English, French, German, and Hungarian.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Sonata in F major
1 2:58
2 3:11
3 3:12
Sonata in B flat major
4 3:30
5 5:32
6 5:11
Sonata in D major
7 2:50
8 4:23
9 3:57
Sonata in E minor
10 3:49
11 5:01
12 4:15
Sonata in A major
13 2:48
14 3:56
15 4:35
Sonata in G major
16 3:23
17 4:32
18 4:47
blue highlight denotes track pick