Juliette Hurel's 2013 album on Naïve explores pieces for flute and piano by Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert, evoking the period between Classicism and early Romanticism. Perhaps the subtlest work of the program is Beethoven's Flute Sonata in B flat major, WoO A4, written in 1790 and fashioned under the influence of Haydn. Its sunny disposition and light textures are periodically interrupted by unexpected key changes and sudden digressions into the minor, characteristics that anticipate Beethoven's later development and mark it as a transitional work. His Serenade for flute and piano, Op. 41, is an arrangement of the Serenade for flute, violin, and viola, Op. 25, and it has a similar, if sometimes deceptive, air of Classical simplicity, which is all the more apparent because of the brevity of the movements. Only Schubert's Variations on a Theme from Die schöne Müllerin is unequivocally Romantic, and its sudden changes of mood and key make it the most fascinating piece on the disc.
Violinist Benjamin Beilman makes his debut as an exclusive Warner Classics artist with Spectrum, an album uniting works by Schubert, Janáček, Stravinsky and Kreisler. With his regular duo partner, pianist Yekwon Sunwoo – a fellow alumnus of Philadelphia’s prestigious Curtis Institute – Beilman explores a multitude of colours and expressive possibilities, evoking them with the finest technical nuances.
Abel published quite a few chamber works with flute, meeting the demand for new music by the many gentleman flutists in England. The flute concertos contained here, despite their opus number, were never published, but are found in a manuscript held in Leipzig which can be dated prior to 1759. Stylistically these works have left the Baroque far behind, with regular phrases, simple basses , broad harmonic movement. The melodies make ample use of lombardic rhythms and syncopations and the florid passaggi sparkles with triplets and scalar passages in sixteenths. Though there are occasional harmonic complications which recall Abel's background, the overall tone here is that of the Enlightenment. Who can Abel have written these works for?