CD in Review: Patrick Gallois, flute; Maria Prinz, piano

CD Review: Patrick Gallois, flute; Maria Prinz, piano
Mozart Violin Sonatas K.376, K.377, K378, K 570 arranged for flute and Piano by Patrick Gallois
Naxos 8.573033; Playing time 74:33 ; Recorded at Casinio Baumgarten, Vienna, Austria June 4-6, 2012
Producer, Engineer and Editor: Jens Jamin
Patrick Gallois, flutist  and Maria Prinz, pianist

Patrick Gallois, flutist and Maria Prinz, pianist

The Baroque period is rich in solo flute music.  The two greats, Bach and Handel, each wrote several sonatas, and many of the lesser geniuses contributed as well.  In the Romantic period, Schubert favored the instrument with a set of virtuoso variations and the French wrote reams of tuneful and often showy pieces.  In the twentieth century many of the most prominent composers, among them Prokofiev, Bartok, Poulenc, Hindemith, Piston, and Ibert wrote solo flute music.  And today’s composers love the flute.

The Classical period is a different story.  Unless the flutist has an orchestra at her (or his) disposal to play a Mozart concerto, she will find almost nothing.  Enter Patrick Gallois. Mr. Gallois, a prominent French flutist and conductor, has skillfully transcribed four Mozart violin sonatas, K.376, K.377, K. 378, and K. 570, for the flute.  At the age of eight, Mozart wrote sonatas that could be played by either flute or violin, as was common practice in the Baroque era.  This is the precedent for Mr. Gallois’ adaptations.

The lovely Sonata K.570 has a different history from the other three works.  In 1789, Mozart entered this work into his list of compositions as a solo piano sonata. In 1796 It was published posthumously by Artaria as a sonata for piano with violin accompaniment. Subsequent scholarship has concluded that this was not Mozart’s intent, although the arranger is not known.

For the most part, the flute is well suited to these genial, accessible compositions.  A few changes have to be made.  As the violin’s range goes a third or a fourth below that of the flute (depending on the flute,) there are some octave transpositions. The flute is more powerful in its high register than when playing lower notes. The notes in the first octave are just not very loud.  This is not the case with the violin, and for this reason it often behooves the flute to play in a higher octave in order to balance the piano.  Where the violin plays double stops, the flute plays arpeggios.  These changes do not impinge on the musical effectiveness of the pieces.

Unlike most flute sonatas these pieces do not give both instruments equal importance; the piano is the more important member of the duo.  Indeed, the sonatas are referred to in some editions as piano sonatas with violin accompaniment. Maria Prinz is a fine pianist who plays with style and verve, always vital but never overpowering her partner. Mr. Gallois has a lovely sound, beguiling phrasing and especially clean articulation. No doubt many flutists and fans of flute music will find great pleasure in this new addition to the repertoire.