Early Music, Recital Media Review Print

J. S. Bach: The Sonatas for Flute and Fortepiano

April 2, 2002 - Cary, NC:

J. S. Bach: The Sonatas for Flute and Fortepiano, & The Partita for Solo Flute. Susan Rotholz, Flute, & Kenneth Cooper, Fortepiano. BRIDGE 9115A/B (2 CDs, $17)

This is a delightful recording of some of Bach's most enchanting works. Rotholz's and Cooper's lively and sensuous playing conveys a sense of pleasure in the music and in its performance. This is especially noticeable in the C Major Sonata (S.1033), the most galant of the lot and one whose authenticity is sometimes questioned. No matter. Rotholz's playing in the fast movements of this Sonata is alone worth the whole set. Her tone is steady and clean with little vibrato, only occasionally marred by audible breathing. Cooper's playing is precise and clear, always well-balanced with the flute.

The arguments about the authenticity of some of these sonatas has been raging for decades, but has not dampened their popularity. In the liner notes, Kenneth Cooper, a specialist in music of the 18th century, gives an extensive, well-reasoned and strong argument for the provenance of these works and also for the use of a fortepiano (a 1991 copy of a 1785 Anton Walter) instead of a harpsichord. The performance, however, is not for purists: the flute is a thoroughly modern Powell.

The recording was done at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in New York. Except for the Partita in a minor (S.1013), the ambiance of the recording is that of an intimate salon rather than that of a large hall. The Partita, on the other hand, carries a wonderful resonance from the hall which makes it sound very spacious.