Kuhlau was born into s family of musicians on 11th September 1786. He studied composition with Christian Freidrich Gottlieb Schwenke, an ex-student of C. P. E. Bach. In 1813 he fled to Denmark from the French occupation of Germany, where he became the ‘Kings Chamber Musician’. His fame grew bigger as a composer. However, in 1831 his house went up in flames burning all possessions and manuscripts. After three months in hospital Kuhlau stated to write again. However, he suffered a severe relapse of illness and died two weeks later.
During his lifetime he was described as a “sultan of the classical sonatina” and “Beethoven of the Flute”. He was the most important composer of music for flute in the early 19th century and is mostly known for his duets and trios.
This Solo Flute CD of little-known music, following from the Mercandante Solo Flute music CD, is another tour de force of the award winning international soloist Stefano Parinno. His playing executes the difficult technical passages with style, finesse, crystal clear sound and light and beautiful articulation throughout the range of the instrument. Perhaps sometimes lacking in weight for more solemn phrases, his variety of sound colour gives all of the different phrasing definition and clarity. The different characters of the motifs are always distinguishable and the music is very much at the forefront.
This CD is not something that you might automatically pick off the shelf however, within just a few minutes of the first track, one is completely captivated. The different characters and musical ideas are beautifully woven together to give a sense of harmony and melody at the same time. Kuhlau’s solo flute music is reminiscent of C. P. E. Bach’s A minor sonata for solo flute with influences of Mozartian characters in melody and harmony. Every now and then you will be surprised to hear a quote from an opera of Mozart and other opera composers of that period, which might make you smile. Little chromatic inflictions here and there remind us that we are listening to early romantic music which composers like Beethoven helped usher in. It then comes as no surprise that Kuhlau and Beethoven met and talked at great length about musical ideas.
All in all, a well rounded presentation of Kuhlau’s music for solo flute. I would even go as far as to say that it’s a must for any flute player.
Masterclass Series Episode 4
Michael Cox, in partnership with Principal Chairs, presents his Masterclass Series. They were held online during lockdown in the UK in summer 2020. Participants were invited to send in video performances for Michael to watch in a Live answering session.