I recently reviewed American flutist Robert Stallman’s superb CD of new arrangements for flute and strings of Schubert’s music. His playing, at that time previously unknown to me, is informed with great scholarship, intense musicality, a beautiful tone, and expert technique. Yes, he’s got the lot. And here, in the Flute Sonatas of J.S. Bach,
Stallman shines once again.
Accompanied on harpsichord by the excellent Edwin Swanborn, and recorded in the lovely confines of New York City’s The Church of the Good Shepherd, Stallman gives us four of the great set of seven sonatas — G Minor, B Minor, A Major and Eb Major. Stallman’s cover notes are both scholarly and entertaining. The subtitle of the CD is ‘Evenings at Zimmermann’s Coffeehouse’. Zimmermann’s was becoming the local hotspot in Leipzig when Bach became Music Director of the establishment in 1729. Can you imagine a flutist like Buffardin, the greatest of Bach’s time, playing these works with the composer accompanying in our local Starbucks? Hmmm! Lucky Leipzig!
On to the performances. They are sublime. Some of you may have read my survey of the recordings of J.S. Bach’s Flute Sonatas. It’s too bad I had not heard Stallman’s CD before the post’s publication. It would be at or near the top of the pile. That’s rubbing shoulders with giants like Julius Baker, Aurèle Nicolet and Elaine Shaffer. Yes, he’s that good.
Technically, Stallman can hold his own with anyone, but it’s his innate musicality where he shines the brightest. His phrasing is exquisite and his ornamentation lovely. The trills, mordents, etc, are used to great effect, especially on repeats. He emphasized phrases and individual notes where I did not expect them. Listening was akin to observing a thoroughly enjoyable and very valuable masterclass. I learned lots. But, please don’t think that purchasing this recording would be a purely educational exercise. If you love Bach, you’ll love this CD. Very highly recommended.
Bogner’s Café — BOCA 105
Playing time: 52:52