Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750): Flute Sonatas Vol. 2. Partita in A Minor BWV 1013; Sonata in C Major BWV 1033 in two versions; Sonata in E Flat Major BWV 1031; Sonata in G Minor WV 1020. Performed by Janet See, baroque transverse flute; Davitt Moroney, harpsichord; Mary Springfels, viola da gamba.
Recorded in March 1990 by Skywalker Sound of Marin County, California.
Harmonia Mundi, originally released as the second CD of the set HMU 907024.25, now re-released in the budget Classical Express series as HMCX 2957025. Total time: 57’15”.
The first volume of Bach’s flute sonatas by the same performers (HMCX 3957024) has been given almost unanimous praise by critics and Amazon reviewers alike. This second volume continues the marvelous performance on period instruments by three of America’s most accomplished baroque musicians. The main difference between the two CDs is the fact that the pieces on this CD are more controversial from a musicological standpoint and that Janet See has opted to play two of them as flute solos. BWV 1013, the partita in A minor, is an older piece that Bach possibly wrote for French virtuoso flautist Buffardin in Dresden. Janet See gives a spirited performance, and it is probably only the very last note of the Allemande (where she concludes the movement with a loud and rather shrill tone) where opinions will differ. BWV 1033 has been classed by musicologists as spurious, possibly as a work by Bach’s second son Carl Philipp Emanuel. Davitt Moroney, obviously the driving musicological force behind the recording, thinks that Johann Sebastian may have written the flute part, while Carl Philipp Emanuel added the bass line. Therefore the piece has been recorded here twice, once as a flute solo and once with the bass line (including Mary Springfels playing a lovely continuo in the Allegro second movement). Janet See was not content to play the flute solo movement in exactly the same way as in the trio sonata version, and a comparison is well worth the making: the solo version is slightly longer and contains some effects that would have been misplaced in an ensemble version.
BWV 1031 has also been considered spurious by some, but Davitt Moroney is convinced of its genuineness. And the last item of the program, BWV 1020, is well-known for being of doubtful provenience; Moroney agrees with the majority of musicologists that it is probably a work by the youthful Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. The majority of surviving manuscripts describe the piece as being for violin, but Moroney points out in his notes that its range is much more suited to the transverse flute (and I have another recording of the piece where the oboe is used). The playing is everywhere excellent, and the wonderful sound of Davitt Moroney’s copy of a Parisian harpsichord from the year 1707 is a further plus (although one might query the use of a French instrument for music that was so firmly anchored in Saxony).
Anyone who has Volume 1 of this set should have no qualms about buying Volume 2 and enjoying it equally as much as that first CD.