Finchcocks Schubertiade

Finchcocks Schubertiade
Elizabeth Walker & Richard Shaw
Devinemusic DMC0003. 71’44

Franz Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata (arr E. Walker), Trockne Blumen, Intro & Variations Op. 160 D.802, Lieder arrangements. Theobald Böhm: Variations sur une valse de Schubert, op 21

This CD is as much about the instruments as the music. The flute is an 1859 Louis Lot (serial number 435, out of 2150 produced during Lot’s lifetime), and appears to have its own page on social media. Lot’s flutes were based on the Böhm model that became the basis for the modern flute. In 1847, Böhm passed on the patent for his flute to Lot and his partner Godfroy. A device that allowed multiple holes to be opened by one lever allowed the flautist to play in all keys and in a wider range than before. The piano is the (1842) Pleyel in the Finchcocks Musical Museum collection, a modest grand of a type with a light action that was favoured by Chopin for its ability to “translate precisely and faithfully the feeling I want to produce”.

Both instruments are arguably of a later period than Schubert (who died in 1828), but the sound world is nonetheless convincing, helped by the playing style of both performers. As well as demonstrating the two instruments representing a particular musical period, Elizabeth Walker & Richard Shaw also very effectively demonstrate the musical thinking and techniques of the Schubert period in their playing, with sensitive touch from Shaw and delicate articulation, phrasing and subtle vibrato from Walker. She produces some delightfully intimate ‘breathy’ sounds on track 10, Am Meer.

The programme is well-chosen, a nice touch being the inclusion of the two ‘well-known’ tracks 4 & 7 (Ständschen and Gute Nacht) amongst the lesser known pieces. All but two of the pieces are arrangements, but they work well, notably Schubert’s  expansive opening Arpeggione Sonata, a piece only heard in arrangements nowadays as the arpeggione (a six-stringed and fretted cello) has long since expired.  Elizabeth Walker’s version suits her own Lot flute well. Theobald Böhm’s virtuosic Variations sur une valse de Schubert is a substantial piece based on Schubert’s Trauerwalzer, and demonstrates the technical abilities of both flute and player.

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