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Diether Steppuhn
Classical Net, December 2009

This is a splendid performance, rich in melodic charm and brilliant display, showing off Meier’s exceptional artistry. Meier has added his own cadenzas. Completing the disc are performances of two flute concertos by Peter von Winter (1754–1825) and one by Franz Lachner (1803–1890).

Carla Rees
MusicWeb International, November 2009

This disc contains a selection of previously un-recorded and mostly unpublished flute concertos from the classical and romantic eras, heard in versions prepared by flute player Bruno Meier.

The composer of the first two pieces, Peter von Winter, was born in Germany and was a contemporary of Mozart. The composers knew each other but did not get on. Winter was a violinist in the Mannheim orchestra and later in Munich, where he became Kapellmeister at the court chapel. He toured Europe, studied with Salieri in Vienna and composed operas, wind concerti, a Requiem and other instrumental works. His flute concertos were composed for Johann Nepomuk Capeller, who was the flute player in the Munch Court Orchestra and teacher of Theobald Boehm, the creator of the modern-system flute. The music is highly enjoyable, with virtuoso displays for the soloist combined with classical poise and elegance. The second concerto, heard first on this recording, is in traditional three movement form, with a majestic opening movement and lyrical slow movement. The final movement is a folk-inspired Polacca with a dance feel, repeated rhythmic patterns and a rondo structure. The first concerto, also in the key of D minor, is less traditionally structured, and is in one movement with four sections. Von Winter uses similar melodic material through the sections and although this is a charming work it does not have the same sense of compositional maturity as the second concerto. Meier plays his own cadenzas, which are well written and in keeping with the style of the music, and the soloist is impressive throughout the works, sensitively accompanied by the Prague Chamber Orchestra.

Franz Lachner’s concerto is from the Romantic era, and makes use of a bigger orchestra than Peter von Winter. Lachner grew up in Munich and studied in Vienna, where he became associated with Schubert and met Beethoven. He became Kappellmeister for opera at the Kärntnertortheater at the age of 25 and went on to have an impressive career as both a conductor and composer. His flute concerto is thought to have been composed in 1832, and opens with a strong orchestral tutti, making use of maestoso dotted rhythms and a dark minor key tonality. Another single movement work, this has more of a sense of unity that Winter’s first concerto and possess a strong musical identity, which seems to hold the influence of both Haydn and Schubert, combining Romantic lyricism with a more traditional harmonic language.

The final work on the disc is Antonio Rosetti’s E flat major concerto, a three movement work with the added inclusion of the harpsichord creating variety in the orchestral sound. Published in 1782, it is thought to have been composed before 1778. A later version for horn also exists. This version has been prepared for Meier, with his own cadenzas and ornamentations. This is an enjoyable and well constructed work, with its major key providing contrast on this recording. The expressive slow movement is particularly enjoyable, followed by a charming light-hearted finale.

Bruno Meier is to be congratulated both on his work researching this repertoire and reviving it. His playing is excellent throughout, with well considered phrasing and an enjoyable tone. He is highly convincing as soloist and demonstrates an understanding of the composers’ intentions. The Prague Chamber Orchestra provides a well balanced orchestral accompaniment and maintains the quality heard in the soloist’s playing. Highly enjoyable.

Raymond Tuttle
Classical Net, June 2009

None of these works have been recorded before, and those who like the flute, or undemanding concertos from the Classical and Romantic eras, will derive much pleasure from this well-filled CD. Even though three of these concertos are a minor key, there’s no real Sturm und Drang here. Whether you put it in the background or in the foreground, this music elicits sighs of satisfaction and pleasure.

Peter von Winter (1754–1825) is not a familiar figure. He and Mozart were acquainted, and he even composed a sequel of sorts to The Magic Flute. In 1798 he became Kapellmeister to the court chapel in Munich, which is where his life ended 27 years later, although in between he worked in Paris and London. His Flute Concerto #1 is more like a concertino, given that it is relatively short, and in one movement—albeit with several tempo changes. Its air of light pathos is attractive. The second concerto follows the more usual three-movement pattern, except in this concerto, the cadenza comes in the slow movement. Like Mozart’s, Winter’s music flows with the facility of water, although it lacks the former composer’s genius. Not just in the solo parts, Winter’s writing for wind instruments is particularly pleasant and idiomatic.

The short-lived Rosetti (né Anton Rösler) was born around 1750 and died in 1792. He too served as a Kapellmeister. In his second such post, he was fortunate to be surrounded by house musicians, which probably explains why he wrote close to 60 concertos. The Flute Concerto recorded here also exists in a similar (but not identical) version that the composer prepared for horn, so it might be familiar to some listeners. The healthily active opening movement sounds like the sun bursting out from behind a cloud, so used are we to the key of D minor at this point in the CD! In the succeeding Adagio ma non tanto, the orchestra bears its griefs stoically, and the flute encourages it to cheer up. The too-brief Rondo brings the concerto to a close with almost childlike innocence.

Franz Lachner (1803–1890) was a colleague and supporter of Franz Schubert, and later in life, founder of the Munich court orchestra, which he conducted. (Conflicts with Richard Wagner and his cronies caused him to surrender that post to Hans von Bülow in 1868.) His Flute Concerto, which dates from 1832, also is in one movement, but it is less obviously sectional than Winter’s Concerto #1. For a flute concerto, there’s a surprising amount of quasi-martial huffing and puffing—all of it in good fun, apparently, despite the minor key.

Much is made of the fact that Bruno Meier plays a 14-carat gold flute; that might be, but it is his golden sound that is more impressive. He and the Prague Chamber Orchestra make a somewhat gentle, even staid impression in these four concertos. Meier’s understatement suits this repertory’s fragile charms well, however, so no harm is done. The Prague Chamber Orchestra plays stylishly throughout. The long booklet note (originally in German, but translated into good English) is a model of its kind, and so it the engineering.

Laura RĂ³nai
Fanfare, May 2009

World premiere recordings of any major works for my instrument understandably tend to kindle my interest right away, even before I listen to them. When they are works from the past, which have been forgotten for no fathomable reason, they get a special place in my CD collection. When, besides, they consist of delightful music, played with flair and competence, they inspire an especially emphatic recommendation. But this CD does more, and deserves more: it introduces to the music-lover no less than four previously unrecorded concertos, each one special in its own way, each one, by itself, worth the price of the CD.

The four concertos presented here were written at different times, and for diverse instrumental forces, but have enough in common to justify being gathered in the same recording, as the liner notes convincingly explain. The performances are equally convincing. Bruno Meier is a brilliant soloist, with a robust, round tone, amazing technique that seems to come naturally to him, a commendable sense of style, phrasing that is musical and flexible, and a personality that basks under the responsibility of facing an imposing orchestra. He displays bravura, wit, fluid legatos, a stunning variety of attacks, and a correspondingly big dynamic scope. His pianissimos are delicate and clean, the fortissimos bold and dense. The cadenzas that he wrote himself are all appropriate, virtuosic, and interesting.

The Prague Chamber Orchestra under Antonín Hradil’s secure baton offers the perfect counterpart for such a soloist, giving him the needed support without crushing him under a sea of sound. The strings are tight-knit and nimble, and the winds—particularly important here, for they engage in long dialogues with the solo flute—are all first-class soloists in their own right. Let’s not forget Tůma’s creative harpsichord accompaniment. Everybody seems to be having a great time. And as we know, fun is contagious. You will find it hard not to join in.

Bruno Meier was responsible for the research that unearthed these concertos as well as many other praiseworthy flute works that had been long forgotten in dusty library shelves, works that he has been recording over the years. Composers like Krommer, Mysliveček, Reicha, Vanhal, and Witt have gained a second lease on life thanks to his careful musicological research and loving performance. If you are at all interested in musical curiosities, in the flute, in music from the past, or simply put, in good music well played, don’t miss this CD, especially at Naxos’s very affordable prices. If you are a flutist yourself, getting to know these works is simply mandatory, no matter at what cost.

Carl Bauman
American Record Guide, March 2009

These are first recordings of four flute concertos by three minor late 18th and 19th Century composers who deserve to be better known.

Peter von Winter (1754–1825) was born in Mannheim and became both a violinist and double-bass player in the fine Mannheim Orchestra. In 1778 he, along with many other orchestra members, moved to Munich when the Mannheim Orchestra was dissolved. In 1798 he was appointed Kapellmeister of the Munich Court Orchestra. During his career he also toured to Vienna, Paris, and London. He left a wide range of compositions that are of considerable interest and are slowly coming to records. (I now have ten of them.) His two flute concertos were written for Johann Nepomuk Capeller, the Munich Orchestra’s principal, in 1813. The first one is in one movement with four parts. It is well written and falls felicitously on the ear as it alternates between major and minor key sections. The second one is in three movements and opens with distinctly military style themes, while III is in typical polacca style.

Franz Lachner (1803–90) was exceptionally long lived. He eventually studied music in Munich and then Vienna. There he became part of Schubert’s circle. By the age of 23 he became Kapellmeister of the Kartnertor Theater and two years later gained the same post with the State Opera. He moved back to Munich in 1836 for 32 years as Hofkapellmeister and General Music Director. As his importance as a conductor grew, his time for composition decreased. Even so, he left many works behind when he died.

He wrote his flute concerto in 1832. It is in one movement and reminiscent of Schubert. Franz Anton Rossler (c.1750–92) was born in Leitmeritz, Bohemia. Little is known of his early life, but he served the Russian Count Orlov before taking a position in the court of Oettingen-Wallerstein in 1773. There he changed his name to Francesco Antonio Rosetti. Many other Bohemian musicians did the same thing. He gradually rose in importance while there. (His Requiem, written for Countess Maria Theresa in 1776, was performed in an expanded version for Mozart’s funeral services in Prague in 1791.) This particular flute concerto—he wrote about 60 for various wind instruments, including 13 for flute—was probably written about 1778 and later was rearranged for horn. Although long passages are the same in both, there are also some notable differences. It proves to be a substantial concerto for flute and is well worth knowing.

Bruno Meier, the soloist here, studied with Andre Jamet in Zurich, Marcel Moyse in the USA, and Peter-Lukas Graf in Switzerland. He has been increasingly active as a musicologist in recent years, and he rediscovered and prepared these concertos for recording. Needless to say, his performances are very good, as is their accompaniment by the Prague Chamber Orchestra. The recording is good, too, as are the notes.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, December 2008

The main attrarction of this CD is the repertoire, which if not essential, is still representative of an era rich in developing styles and technique. There are two works by Winter, and one each by Lachner and Rosetti (real name: Franz Anton Roessler, a Bohemian composer). The soloist composed the cadenzas for all three works, which he plays with great empathy. The Prague Chamber Orchestra is famous as a conductorless ensemble, and is here led by concertmaster Antonin Hradil.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2008

Bruno Meier’s exploration into the world of unknown flute concertos here takes him on a journey from the classic era of Antonio Rosetti through to the early romantic period of Franz Lachner.

On the way we discover the long forgotten 18th century German-born composer, Peter von Winter. Of the three, it is Rosetti who still holds a place in the repertoire by virtue of his wind music, though he was a double-bass player before turning to conducting and composing, being successful in both. His flute concerto—which also exists in a version for horn—dates from the mid-1770s, and is a modest showpiece of the performer’s technique, its main virtue coming from its long singing melodies. Based in Munich, Winter was highly productive as a composer and toured extensively through Europe enjoying much success as a performing musician. His two flute concertos are unabashed showpieces, the first of finger-knotting complexity and requiring considerable agility, a feature extended by Meier’s demanding cadenzas. Neither concerto contains earth-shattering melodic invention, but both are extremely pleasant. The Marco Polo label has made some of Lachner’s music known, his life stretching through almost all of the 19th century and placing him in direct comparison with so many great composers that his modest talents simply could not match. His short one-movement flute concerto dates from 1832, his twenty-ninth year, and is a piece of perky brilliance. All four concertos receive their first recording, the scores having been prepared by Meier. Born in Switzerland, Meier has built a career both as a flute soloist and member of chamber orchestras. Clarity of articulation in fast passages is striking, and he has an intuitive feel for the this period of music. Neat, tidy and unobtrusive support from the Prague Chamber Orchestra in an unfussy and well-balanced recording completes a likeable release.

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