Robert Aitken

Johann Stamitz: Flute Concertos

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A Canadian-French-German flutist joins with a Lithuanian chamber ensemble, creating a thoroughly mainstream recording of some pleasant chamber music of the Mannheim school. The veteran Nova Scotia-born flutist Robert Aitken was a student of both Marcel Moyse and Jean-Pierre Rampal, and his style reflects the bright warmth and élan of the French flute style. As applied to the flute concertos of Stamitz, who wrote no fewer than 14 of them, it produces pleasing results. These concertos, with sizable double expositions intended to give the mighty Mannheim orchestra time to strut its stuff, reward a big sound, and they're nicely balanced between soloist and orchestra: the concertos are not virtuoso solo vehicles, but the overall technical demands of the writing are high for both soloists and orchestra, and the overall impression is weighty despite the general atmosphere of sunny charm. The St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra of Vilnius, Lithuania, under Donatas Katkus announces itself as a technically well-equipped group, and there is something of the spirit of the Mannheim School -- muscular, confident, yet not untouched by the blithe spirit of the era -- in its playing. One can certainly imagine period-instrument performances that would make more of the flute part, but at the same time it is unlikely that anyone with an interest in the early Classical period would find this release anything less than enjoyable. Notes are in English and German.

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