Hansgeorg Schmeiser is originally from Graz, and now performs as the principal flute of the Vienna Volksoper Orchestra, following studies with Alain Marion in Paris and Wolfgang Schulz in Vienna.
This disc of works for solo flute comprises a range of repertoire from the traditional - Bach and Stamitz - to the contemporary - including Takemitsu and Fukushima. This serves to demonstrate the scope of the flute’s range of expression and musical capabilities. The liner-notes explain that each of the works has a link with Germany, some of them with obvious connections, but others more obscure, such as the works by Takemitsu and Fukushima.
Takemitsu’s Air opens the disc, a relatively simple work which takes influence from Debussy as well as from Takemitsu’s native Japanese culture. Schmeiser’s sound is rich and dark, and one can detect the subtle characteristics of his platinum flute. The music is well phrased and performed with a good understanding of the pace of development and the importance of silence.
The third of the Eastern-influenced pieces is Fukushima’s Mei, a frequently performed work which was composed in 1962 and features a dramatic range of expression. Schmeiser’s performance is as good as any I’ve heard, with a rich low register, yet bright in the heights and with a good dynamic range. He captures the style well, with shakuhachi-style attacks, glissandi and an expressive tone. The end is particularly beautiful, played with a hollow effect which is allowed to disappear into silence.
The Capriccio-Sonata by Johann Stamitz provides a stark stylistic contrast, with the early Classical side feeling pure and uncomplicated after the intensity of Karg-Elert and Hindemith. Schmeiser’s phrases are nicely shaped, and there is an elegance of the melodic line which comes through well. The central slow movement is played with a particular sense of tenderness.
The disc ends with two of the most well-known unaccompanied flute works, the sonatas by C.P.E. and J.S. Bach. Both works are in A minor and have a wonderful sense of bass contour and melody, especially in the opening movements. The C.P.E. Bach sonata has three movements, in the form of a slow movement followed by two allegros, while J.S.’s takes on more of the form of a dance suite, with four movements. The playing is good, with a lovely sense of style, and an evenness of tone throughout the registers.
This is a well produced and enjoyable disc, with Schmeiser demonstrating his ability to perform a range of musical styles effectively and with understanding.
Carla Rees, Musicweb-international.com
"Working chrono-unlogically backwards, he starts with Takemitsu's 'Air' (1996), a typically elegant fantasy. Schmeiser doesn't fill, but rather feels the evocative silences. He swells in and out of ghostly legato passages or punchy, recurrent motifs with complete conviction." Kate Sherriff, BBC Music Magazine