Schubert, Beethoven & Schumann Music for Flute

Franz Schubert’s only significant work for flute is an offshoot of his famous song-cycle Die schöne Müllerin, completed in November 1823. In January 1824 he took the melody of the 18th song, ‘Trockne Blumen’ (Faded Flowers) and made it the basis of his Introduction and Variations in E minor on ‘Trockne Blumen’ for flute and piano. It may have been composed for Schubert’s friend Ferdinand Bogner, a professor of flute at the Vienna Conservatory, but it remained unpublished – and perhaps unperformed – until 1850, when the work was issued posthumously as Schubert’s op. 160. Since then it has formed an essential part of the flute repertoire.

Beethoven’s only mature and substantial contribution to the instrument’s repertoire is the Serenade, op.25 for flute, violin and viola, written in 1801. In 1803, the Bohemian composer Franz X. Kleinheinz (1772-1832), who had recently arrived in Vienna to study with Beethoven’s old teacher Albrechtsberger, arranged this work for flute (or violin) and piano. The arrangement was obviously carried out with Beethoven’s full approval, as he is known to have checked it over and sanctioned it before it was printed in December, 1803.

Robert Schumann wrote no original pieces for flute. However, it is but a small leap for flautists to include the 3 Romanzen op.94 in their repertoire. They were written in 1849, for oboe, but with the composer’s indication that they were suitable for either clarinet or violin. The Romanzen are simply ‘Songs without Words’, and as such open to all instrumental colours equally.

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"This splendid CD, recorded by Nimbus Records in March 2014, provides us with works for solo flute and piano by Schubert and Beethoven and transcriptions of songs and oboe pieces by Robert Schumann. Neither Beethoven nor Schubert wrote more than the slightest amount of music for the flute and in the case of Beethoven this Serenade existed first as a trio for flute, violin and viola with an opus number 25, in 1801. With the composer's approval and sanction, Franz Kleinheinz transcribed the work for flute and piano in 1803 and it is in this form that many of us know and appreciate this music. Comprising seven mostly short movements this work is a charming example of early to middle period Beethoven smaller scale chamber music and worthy of repeated hearings, exceedingly well played by Ransom Wilson with pianist Peter Frankl. These artists bring to life the Schubert Introduction and Variations on Trockne Blumen (faded flowers), the 18th song in the Song Cycle Die schone Mullerin, written in 1823. The following year the composer himself wrote these magnificent variations for flute and piano, basing the theme on probably the most sad song in the cycle and concluding with an almost heroic and jubilant march. Schubert was himself no flautist and probably wrote this music for a flute professor at the Vienna Conservatory. Despite the theme's sentiments this is a joyous piece of music which here receives a first-rate performance by these artists - in particular veteran pianist Peter Frank conjures up a telling accompaniment to the internationally renowned soloist Ransom Wilson. This is not to be missed! Completing the disc we have an arrangement of three Schumann Romances Op 94, written originally for clarinet or violin and transcriptions of three Schumann songs, including the well-known Widmung from Opus 25. These pieces conclude the disc in a most satisfying manner and succeed in making it very well worth hearing. The recording is very well up to Nimbus's excellent standard and programme notes and booklet are wonderfully clear to the eye."-Arthur Francis

"An excellent CD of pieces for flute and piano from the Classical era. There was not a great deal written for flute in that era it seems, although we all know Mozart's supposed views on the flute. It is not too clear why little was composed, but possibly down to none of the major Classical composers having the flute as their instrument and the flute needed some influential advocates. Ransom Wilson (flute) and Peter Frankl (piano) make an excellent case for these pieces. The Schubert piece is based on the 18th song from his song cycle Die Schone Mullerin "Trockne Blumen" (faded flowers). This consists of an introduction, the main theme and then seven variations. It was published posthumously and possibly never performed in Schubert's lifetime. The Beethoven piece: Serenade in D major Op.41. This is based on Beethoven's Op.25 Serenade for flute, violin and viola. The bass line being replaced in this version by Kleinheinz with the piano. Beethoven sanctioned this and checked through it at the time of publication in 1803. Schumann did not write any music for the flute. The three Romanzen Op.94 were written for oboe. However Schumann indicated they could be played by the clarinet or violin, so the flute fits well with this. There are in addition three Schumann songs: "Widmung" Op.25 No.1; "Meine Rose"Op.90 No.2 and "Romanze - Fluthenreicher Ebro" Op.138 No.5 (Flooding Ebro River). The sound quality is excellent and excellent booklet. Most enjoyable and definitely a CD to aquire."- Anonymous

"This is an interesting selection of works by Schubert, Schumann and Beethoven. The Schubert arrrangement is from Trockne Blumen from Die Schone Mullerin while Schumann is also represented by Lieder, the latter is so close to the original songs that their libretti are included in the very informative accompanying booklet and it is easy to hear the "words" in the flute line. The Beethoven piece is an arrangement of a Serenade in D major originally composed for flute, violin and viola but transcribed for flute and piano with the composer's approval; the original marked as op.25 while this is distinguished as op.41. Wrritten in 1803, this is a work of a mature master and is wholly satisfying, closely allied to the original composition without being dependent on the theme and variation format underlining the aforementioned music. Any duets are very much affected by the sympathetic co-operation between the artists concerned and here, with the vastly accomplished Peter Frankl accompanying an oustanding flautist, there is no disappointment and much to applaud."- Jack L. Honigman

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