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Johan van Veen
, September 2010

Yes, the performances are technically brilliant, and musically they are lively and energetic...This disc shows that Quantz was a rather good composer; there is no reason to look down on his oeuvre. In that respect this disc is a winner, and nice to listen to

Johan van Veen
musica Dei donum, September 2010

Yes, the performances are technically brilliant, and musically they are lively and energetic...This disc shows that Quantz was a rather good composer; there is no reason to look down on his oeuvre. In that respect this disc is a winner, and nice to listen to

Johan van Veen
MusicWeb International, August 2010

Johann Joachim Quantz is mainly known as a flautist as well as being the author of one of the most important treatises of the 18th century. In fact his accomplishments were much more extensive than that. He didn’t start out with the flute. One could compare his musical education with that of a German ‘Stadtpfeifer’. One of the characteristics of the Stadtpfeifer involved learning to play several instruments. That was also the case with Quantz: he was proficient on most string instruments as well as the oboe and the trumpet. He also learnt to play the keyboard. It was only logical that in 1716 he join the town band in Dresden.

In the earliest stages of his career he played the oboe. Through various studies he extended his horizon. He studied counterpoint with Jan Dismas Zelenka, and became acquainted with the concertos of Vivaldi, which had a considerable influence on his development as a composer. In 1719 he turned his attention to the transverse flute and started to study with Pierre Gabriel Buffardin, the star flautist of the court orchestra in Dresden. It was the orchestra’s violinist Johann Georg Pisendel who had the greatest influence on Quantz, especially in his advocacy of the ‘mixed taste’ of Italian and French elements.

His meeting with the then Crown Prince Frederick II of Prussia in 1728 was decisive. He made such an impression that he was asked to educate him in playing the flute. When Frederick succeeded his father as king of Prussia, Quantz had to provide him with music for his favoured instrument. The king played frequently, and his appetite for flute music was insatiable. As a result Quantz composed a large quantity of music: about 300 flute concertos, more than 40 trio sonatas, almost 200 solo sonatas as well as solos, duos and trios for flute without accompaniment.

This disc offers six of the sonatas which have taken a special place in Quantz’s oeuvre. A number of these are in four movements, modelled after the Italian sonata da camera or sonata da chiesa. Others are in three movements, with the sequence: slow-fast-fast. The present sonatas, also in three movements, follow the order fast-slow-fast. The assumption is that they were written around 1750.

The programme notes quote a passage from his treatise Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversière zu spielen (Essay on Instruction for Playing the Transverse Flute) in which Quantz outlines his view on composing: “If a solo is to please everyone it must be arranged so that the inclination of each listener can find nourishment in it. It must be neither entirely cantabile nor entirely lively. Just as each movement must be quite different from the others, so each must have within itself a good mixture of pleasing and brilliant ideas. For even the most beautiful idea can eventually become tiresome if it is not played differently each time, and although constant liveliness or sheer difficulty might be admired, neither is especially moving”.

In my view these interpretations fail to live up to Quantz’s principles. Yes, the performances are technically brilliant, and musically they are lively and energetic. That said, they are short on expression and sensitivity. What I find most disappointing is the lack of differentiation in dynamics in the playing…This disc shows that Quantz was a rather good composer; there is no reason to look down on his oeuvre. In that respect this disc is a winner, and nice to listen too…

Carla Rees
MusicWeb International, April 2010

Carla Rees
MusicWeb International, April 2010

Quantz was known both as a leading flute player and as a prolific composer. He worked from 1741 under the employ of Frederick the Great, who was himself a keen flute player. His output includes an important treatise on flute technique, as well as around three hundred concertos and over two hundred sonatas, although many of these have been lost today.

This is an excellent disc distinguished by a fine balance between parts. It has clearly been engineered with a good understanding of the nature of the tone qualities of these instruments. The tone is beautifully smooth and full of expressive nuance, and none of the subtleties are lost in this recording.

The Sonatas within this set are all in Fast-Slow-Fast form, with expressive slow movements and lively outers which often feature arpeggiated semiquaver movements in the flute part. Verena Fischer’s technique is always even and well controlled, and matched by her colleagues. The ornamentations are clear and precise, and there is a sense of delight and enjoyment in the playing.

The cheerful F major Sonata, No. 272 begins the set, played with an enjoyable lightness and energy. The last movement in particular has impressive gusto which really brings the music to life. The major key sonatas tend to follow a similar pattern, and are played with a sense of adventure; baroque sonatas can sometimes be associated with unimaginative playing, but not so here. This ensemble demonstrates a sense of craftsmanship and healthy musicianship.

I particularly enjoyed the sprightly opening of the A major sonata and its lilting Siciliana, which has a real sense of the dance. The short first movement of the B flat major sonata is heavier in the accompaniment and is eloquently serious, but with nimble flute lines which demonstrate the virtuoso capabilities of the transverse flute.

Only one sonata here is in a minor key: number 276 in C minor. The overall feeling is perhaps a little heavier, but the sprightly flute writing remains and so does the joyful mood. You can hear this especially in the central slow movement, which does not wallow or over-indulge but maintains a sense of expression.

This is a lovely disc which is enjoyable and of real quality from beginning to end.

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, March 2010

Johann Joachim Quantz (1697–1773) lived long and prospered. He was born near Göttingen, Germany, and died in Potsdam, but not before distinguishing himself as a flute teacher, flute maker, and composer at the court of Frederick the Great of Prussia, and not before he had written a treatise on flute playing, made important innovations in flute design, and wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 flute concertos. If Quantz wrote anything other than concertos for solo flute, it would be another dozen or so concertos for two flutes, over 360 flute sonatas, some 50 trio sonatas with—you guessed it—flute, duets for flute, fantasias for flute (my keyboard has learned to type “flute” all by itself), capriccios for flute, and—not for flute—an oboe sonata, a handful of concertos for horn and for trumpet, and about three-dozen German Lieder. Needless to say, a real passion for the flute is a prerequisite to appreciating Quantz. That eliminates Mozart, and apologetically, yours truly. I don’t have an actual aversion to the instrument; it’s just that I’m not hog-wild crazy about it.

Nonetheless, if I had to listen to over an hour’s worth of Quantz’s flute sonatas, I cannot think of another recording I’d rather listen to than this one, probably because I’ve never heard another one, my sole Quantz recording being Rachel Brown’s Hyperion disc of five concertos.

Verena Fischer’s transverse flute is not identified, but it’s clear from the booklet photo that it’s made of wood. Otherwise, it doesn’t sound that much different from a modern metal flute. Perhaps more important than what the instrument is made of is Fischer’s manner and style of playing it, for she is a relatively recent convert to the cause, her prior credentials having been earned playing modern flute in modern-instrument ensembles, namely, the German Youth Philharmonic under Lorin Maazel, Charles Dutoit, and Gary Bertini. She also served two years as principal flutist in the Southwest German Philharmonic and the Würzburg Philharmonic orchestras. Taking up study of the Baroque flute under Barthold Kuijken and others, she quickly advanced to become principal flutist of Reinhard Goebel’s Musica Antiqua Köln.

Fischer’s technique is astounding. She tosses off Quantz’s acrobatic runs and roulades with the aplomb of an Olympics figure skater executing a perfect Axel jump…Quantz’s music is tremendously imaginative, ever inventive, and infectiously enchanting. Most assuredly recommended.

Perry Tannenbaum
American Record Guide, January 2010

Allegro…sustains a presto energy…

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, July 2009

This new Naxos release has Grand Prix du Disque potential. Johann Joachim Quantz taught music lover Frederick the Great, at whose court he served for three decades. His name is synonymous with the best flute music of the baroque, and his method is still in use today. So the music is above reproach: simply top drawer, as is the trio of seasoned young artists, who give it their all. Brandt’s virtuosity is simply breathtaking, and the continuo players never lag. Moreover, a common flaw with this kind of repertoire is that string bass and keyboard are almost always recorded at too low a level, but not so in this case!

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2009

Johann Joachim Quantz’s claim to lasting fame comes from the thirty years he taught and played the flute with Frederick the Great, leaving on his death a massive catalogue of works included a vast number of flute sonatas. He had the desperate misfortune of the death of his mother while he was still a child; his father and newly married step-mother dying in the same year when Quartz was hardly ten. Passed into the care of an uncle, who was also to die three months later, it was with his next uncle he was passed to that introduced him to music. Having learning several instruments he led the life as travelling musician before his appointment to the court of Frederick the Great at the age of thirty-one. Like many Baroque composers he could write countless works to a set pattern and all sounding much the same. The six sonatas that we have here—with one exception—have two fast outer movements surrounding a much slower and sombre central movement. I am not going to make extravagant claims on their behalf, but they offer relaxing music, nicely constructed, and often calling for extremely nimble fingers. Harpsichord and cello provide a readily attractive and uncomplicated accompaniment that offers the ideal foil to the stunning brilliance of Verena Fischer’s sparkling agility. She plays a period transverse flute with pithy quality.To sample go to track 13—the opening to sonata number 276—where she places her incredible technique at the disposal of some joyous music. Studio engineers have placed the flute well to the fore without masking the two backdrop musicians.

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