Bach: Flute Sonatas –Andrea Oliva, flute/Angela Hewitt, piano/Hyperion

by admin on March 4, 2013 · 5 comments

in Classical Recordings

by Anthony Kershaw

Hyperion has been sending some gems lately, the ‘Handel: Finest Arias For Base Voice’ (Christopher Purves/ Arcangelo/ Jonathan Cohen) (Hyperion: CDA67842), chief among them. So, it came as a surprise that this new 2013 release cannot be counted as a success.

The stars seemed aligned. Principal flutist of the vastly improved Santa Cecilia Orchestra of Rome, Andrea Oliva and the darling of the Bach set, Angela Hewitt on piano. Obviously, both are fine and cultured musicians.

On this set of six Bach Flute Sonatas with continuo or obbligato harpsichord, we have a mismatch of styles. Most flutists use harpsichord as accompaniment, whether playing a wooden baroque flute or as here on a modern instrument. Oliva has the Bach specialist, Canadian Angela Hewitt on piano.

Oliva takes the baroque approach on a modern instrument, what American star flutist Paula Robison calls ‘fusion style’. To my ears, Oliva’s attempt at this approach does not work. It diminishes the sound, sparkle and power of the modern flute and does not emphasize the unique timbres of the baroque wooden flute. What I hear is a bland sound and interpretation.

Oliva does ornament very musically — they sound completely improvisatory. And, Hewitt is a musical accompanist. Both are recorded beautifully in Berlin’s Jesus Christus Kirche. A shame we don’t hear more of Oliva’s musical personality. Bach can be dynamic and exciting while adhering to appropriate instrumental practice.

You can read more about Bach’s Flute Sonatas in my Audiophilia survey. It does not include two of the very best sets I’ve heard recently. The fabulous Jed Wentz on wooden baroque flute and the eqaully wonderful Robert Stallman on modern flute. Both of these releases serve Bach better.

Hyperion CDA67897
Playing time: 77:58

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Mercer 03.04.13 at 1:43 pm

I’ve been exploring more and more classical lately thanks to you guys!!

Anthony 05.29.13 at 4:47 am

It is incredible that nowadays can still exists a recording of baroque music with those hybrid interpretations, the so-called “fusion style”, that is not a style, but simply bad taste. The worst thing is to perform trying to imitate the baroque sound and style blending the worse of baroque and modern approaches : trivial improvisations and choice of modern flute and steinway piano as continuo (!) by the already known Hewitt, whose musicological approach goes back to the the beginning of the twentieth century : useless and coarse.

isabel 08.28.15 at 10:05 am

Please, tell me who paint the CD cover.
I love the music, and also the cover.
Thank you,

admin 08.31.15 at 12:27 pm

Hi Isabel:

I’ll check into it. An obvious detail, of a larger work. Stay tuned. Cheers, a

admin 08.31.15 at 12:33 pm

Here you go, Isabel:

‘A young woman in a Russian hat, holding a book’ (detail) by Pietro Antonio Rotari (1707–1762).

Cheers, a

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