Kuhlau (1786-1832): Flute Quintets / Ginevra Petrucci, flute; Kodaly Quartet

Recommendation

Brilliant Classic is a label well known to collectors for its extensive catalog of bargain collections and editions. These compilations are culled by licensing previously released and largely unavailable material from major record labels. However, the label has also been quietly building a beautiful catalog of their original recordings, many of which have appeared previously on the virtual pages of Expedition Audio. This new recording of the Flute Quintets, Op. 51 nos. 1-3 by Friedrich Kuhlau is one of the latest such releases, beautifully performed by flutist Ginevra Petrucci and members of the Kodály String Quartet with violist Mihály Várnagy.

Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832) was a Danish composer active during the late Classical and early Romantic periods. Mozart, Spohr, and Weber all had a significant influence on his music, but no composer did so much as Beethoven, whom Kulau idolized. He used his prominence in the Copenhagen music scene to grow an audience for Beethoven’s music in Denmark. One of his first great successes was the Piano Concerto in C major, Op. 7, modeled so closely on Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto as to practically be a pastiche.

Aside from his compositions for solo piano (which hold a firm place in the instrument’s pedagogy as well as the repertoire) and the stage works, he composed for the Danish National Opera, Kuhlau’s most crucial area of output was chamber music. He had a firm grasp of the technical and expressive qualities of the flute, an instrument appearing in more than sixty of his chamber works. In the three flute quintets of opus 51 heard on this recording, the quartet of string players is instead uncommonly scored for one violin with two violas and a cello. This instrumentation is indicative of Kuhlau’s intention that the flute is not so much a solo instrument in these settings as a member of the ensemble, very much taking on the role of a first violin. At the bottom of the spectrum, the two violas with cello lend a rich, resonant timbre to the body of sound.

There have been recordings of these pieces made in the past, but none other seems to be currently available. If you’re listening to the album sample provided in the sidebar, you’re hearing fourth movement Allego assai from the Flute Quintet in D, Op. 51 no. 1. This generously filled album holds just under eighty minutes of this elegant and charming music.

Album Overview

Known to his contemporaries as “the Beethoven of the flute,” Friedrich Kuhlau took much inspiration from the master of Bonn, who was a significant influence on his work. Kuhlau’s output for the flute comprises over 60 works – an impressive total for a composer who was not a flutist himself.

The unusual scoring of the flute quintets – using flute, violin, two violas, and a cello – gives a great richness to the sound, due to the presence of the three lower-register instruments. The flute mostly takes the role of the first violin rather than soloist, becoming an integral part of the structure and development of each of these elegant works. Source: Brilliant Classics

Artists

Friedrich Kuhlau

Kuhlau (11 September 1786 – 12 March 1832) was a German-born Danish composer during the Classical and Romantic periods. He was a central figure of the Danish Golden Age and is immortalized in Danish cultural history through his music for Elves’ Hill.

During his lifetime, Kuhlau was known primarily as a concert pianist and composer of Danish opera but was responsible for introducing many of Beethoven’s works, which he greatly admired, to Copenhagen audiences. Considering that his house burned down, destroying all of his unpublished manuscripts, he was a prolific composer leaving more than 200 published works in most genres. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Kuhlau

Ginevra Petrucci

Praised by the Italian press as being “one of the most interesting talents of her generation,” and described as having “a beautiful phrasing, brilliant virtuosity and a legato worthy of a great singer” by The Flutist Quarterly, Ginevra Petrucci is an internationally renowned musician with a dynamic performance schedule. http://www.ginevrapetrucci.com/bio

Kodály Quartet

The Quartet was founded in 1966 by four students of the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest as a continuation of the great Hungarian string quartet tradition. In 1968 the ensemble – called the “Sebestyén Quartet” at the time (named after the new Quartet’s first violinist) – won the first prize at the International Leo Weiner String Quartet Competition in Budapest.

By 1971, the Quartet had established an international reputation, and in that year, changed its name to the “Kodály Quartet” in honor of the outstanding twentieth-century Hungarian composer.

The Kodály String Quartet has recorded some 60 CDs. http://www.kodalyquartet.com/

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