Friedrich von Flotow was a member of an ancient noble Prussian family. He is known to posterity mainly for one work, his enormously popular opera 'Martha' with its recurring use of the song 'The Last Rose of Summer' and its famous tenor aria "Ach! so fromm" better known and recorded in its Italian language version, "M'appari, tutt'amor". Although he wrote a total of 30 operas Flotow never again achieved the smash-hit succes he had with 'Martha'.
I knew Flotow had also composed non-operatic music, including a collaboration with Jacques Offenbach on a delicious set of miniatures for cello and piano, which is available on CD. I was delighted to see the new release by Sterling of a disc of Flotow's two piano concertos and other orchestral music. Sterling is one of my favourite labels: I own virtually its entire catalogue. Music lovers owe the company a debt of gratitude for its wonderful recordings of romantic repertoire by composers who have been totally unjustly neglected. The two concertos, composed in 1830 and 1831, are relatively short in duration (14 and 18 minutes respectively)with the second having four movements; rare for that period. They are light, graceful and melodic as you would expect of their composer. The lovely adagio of the second concerto is an aria without words. The pianist, Carl Petersson, interprets them perfectly with his incredibly fleet fingerwork.
The remainder of the disc contains the colourful Jubel Overture and incidental music composed in 1861 for a play entitled 'William of Orange in Whitehall' in which Flotow incorporates a brilliant rendition of 'Rule Britannia'. If the play was a fraction as good as the music it should have been a runaway success. The Pilsen Philharmonic play it all with gusto and the recording, just slightly reverberant at times, is excellent.
Five stars then for the music, the performers and Sterling for its commendable enterprise in making this music widely available.