Thursday, 22 October 2015

Bach - Flute Sonatas - Oliva/Hewitt

Rating: 5/5

Excellent Bach

I think this is an excellent CD. I approached it with caution because even though I love Angela Hewitt's solo Bach recordings I have always thought that a piano sounds plain wrong in the keyboard concertos and thought that the same incongruity might apply here. It doesn't - the combination of piano and modern flute is wonderful and brings a life and wholeness to the music which I have not heard before.

The programme is of three of Bach's flute sonatas (BWV1030, 1034 and 1035) and three attributions whose authorship is less certain. The B minor Sonata BWV1030 especially is a true masterpiece, I think, but all are excellent and very rewarding chamber works. What makes this disc special is the playing of Angela Hewitt and Andrea Oliva, which is quite outstanding. They both have a wonderful feel for the music and there is a terrific understanding between them. They judge things like rubato and ornamentation perfectly and Bach's lines are distinct but perfectly meshed together.

This is true of other recordings I have, too - notably the great Ashley Solomons and Terry Charleston on wooden baroque flute and harpsichord. What struck me forcibly in this recording, though, was how beautifully the tones of the piano and Oliva's modern silver flute combine, giving a wholeness to the sound which I hadn't heard before. Taken with the superb musicianship, this makes for something very special, I think.

As always from Hyperion, the recorded sound is excellent and the notes and presentation are very good. If you have a rooted objection to Bach on modern instruments you won't like the disc, but I'd strongly urge the slightly dubious like me to give it a try - you might be as surprised as I was by how well it works and how very good it is.

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