The Young Beethoven
A gaping hole in the flute repertoire opened during the first half of the nineteenth century. It was not until the genial Theobald Boehm carried through his technical improvements on the transverse flute, formerly imperfect but now endowed with radiant sound, that this instrument once again was able to interest composers. The FlautoPiano Duo with Helen Dabringhaus and Fil Liotis surprises us with a program brimming with wit and virtuoso lightness and featuring none other than Ludwig van Beethoven. Here Beethoven’s Serenade is of course a must. The master himself supervised the arrangement for flute-piano duo of one of his few works assigning a challenging part to the flute; by then a highly sought-after composer, he evidently had no time to perform this task on his own. Beethoven’s authorship of a Sonata, possibly from his Bonn period, is steeped in legend; this uncommonly witty and nimble work offers us a very different picture of this composer. Theobald Boehm, who as a virtuoso constantly sought new repertoire for his steadily developing instruments, also arranged demanding works with great skill. His version of the Adagio from Beethoven’s famous Piano Concerto No. 1 sheds magnificent light on it from the perspective of High Romanticism and assigns the solo piano’s very substantial tasks to the now highly versatile flute. The equally versatile Helen Dabringhaus succeeds in rendering all of the above with great skill. She masters the virtuosic parts with sparkling lightness but also is able to retreat into tonal beauty – for example, as the discreet accompanist of her piano partner Fil Liotis. The program also includes Beethoven’s Horn Sonata in a contemporary arrangement and the playfully virtuosic Duo for two flutes from 1792 by the twenty-two-year-old composer (here with Vukan Milin) – which makes this lovingly produced Super Audio CD a very special windfall for the Beethoven Year.