Marcelo Barboza / Rune Most

Niels Peter Jensen: Duos pour deux flûtes

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Here's something for the collector who has everything: these four Danish duos for two flutes have never been recorded. In fact, almost no music by their composer, Niels Peter Jensen, has appeared on recordings at all. And they're delightfully well formed. Jensen, a blind composer active in the early nineteenth century, wrote music in various genres but especially for the flute, which he played. He wrote several sets of flute duets. The ones here display a certain Danish conservatism, and they're something of a stylistic grab bag. In places they hark back to Telemann's chamber music, with sprightly figuration and even harmonic rhythms. Several central minuets show the influence of Haydn's humor. And the finales (sample track 6 for a taste of the music's charms) effectively transfer the flavor of Italian virtuoso sonatas and concertos to a duo context, with the two instruments capering and whirling around each other like young dogs playing in a field. Despite the stylistic mixture, the music doesn't come off as pastiche; the technical skill of the music somehow ties it all together, and several pieces have a common thread of melancholy. These duos are for listeners who appreciate fine craftsmanship applied to relatively light music. It is Jensen's facility with counterpoint that allows him to fuse the two instruments together in quick, constantly changing textures that never fail to keep the mind engaged. The performance here, by a Danish-and-Brazilian flutist pair, is optimal, with an elegant sense of dialogue even in highly virtuosic passages, and the engineering is superb. This is essential for flutists and strongly recommended for anyone else as a high-quality visitor-confounding disc that shows yet again how much wonderful music there still is to find in the closets of history.

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