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New Bach Recordings: Flute Sonatas

available at Amazon
Bach, Flute Sonatas, E. Pahud, T. Pinnock

(released on November 11, 2008)
EMI Classics 50999 2 17443 2 7

Online scores:
BWV 1030-1032 | BWV 1033-1035 | H. 524.5 (formerly BWV 1020, now attributed to C. P. E. Bach) | BWV 1039 (Trio sonata for two flutes)
Emmanuel Pahud, principal flutist of the Berlin Philharmonic, is an Ionarts favorite, with our recent assessments of his playing including a striking Vivaldi album and an exclusive review of his 2007 concert here in Washington. On this new 2-CD set, Pahud has partnered with harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock in recording all of Bach's flute sonatas. This is only one on the pile of new Bach recordings to cross my desk recently. Many years ago, Trevor Pinnock made essentially the same recording, now a classic, with Jean-Pierre Rampal (Sony, with solo flute partita instead of the trio sonata for two flutes). Like Rampal, Pahud plays on a modern instrument in a clean, rhythmically etched style, adding very few and largely inconsequential ornaments. Thankfully, the Baroque style is mostly provided by Pinnock, who lends considerable expertise, particularly in realizing the continuo harmonization in the pieces where Bach did not write out the keyboard part. Fine, if unobtrusive playing comes from cellist Jonathan Manson, sustaining the basso continuo line, and flutist Silvia Careddu as second banana on BWV 1039, the trio sonata for two flutes.

In short, this is a sort of hybrid recording, part modern performance and part historical instrument performance. It may appeal then as a middle path for those who are not completely sold on the charms of historically informed performance. My ears are so taken by the sound of the traverso flute, the much breathier, softer instrument that Bach had at his disposal, that for one's only recording of the Bach flute works, my recommendation would go to Lisa Beznosiuk and Paul Nicholson ($47.98 -- Hyperion, plus solo flute partita). At half the price, however, Pahud's set is hard to resist. To take it for a test run before you buy it, go hear Pahud and Pinnock live this Sunday (May 3, 5:30 pm) at Baltimore's Shriver Hall, where they will play four of the Bach sonatas, as well as some Purcell and Varèse.


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