“Oleskiewicz performs the fast passagework of the Allegro movements flawlessly and with a sense of ease, despite arpeggios and brilliant figuration in keys such as C minor…The fine technique and musicality of Oleskiewicz, coupled with the delightful rarity of…these concerti, make this CD one that should be at the top of everyone’s acquisition list.” – Early Music America
REVIEW of Lecture-Recital on Frederick “the Great,” Las Vegas, National Flute Association
By JOHN BARCELLONA
NFA Chronicles (Oct. 2012)
…The culminating Baroque flute event was a fascinating lecture/recital entitled “The Flutist of Sanssouci: Frederick “the Great” as Composer, and Performer,” presented by Mary Oleskiewicz, associate professor at the University of Massachusetts and a leading authority on Quantz. Oleskiewicz, who recently received a grant to study and perform at Frederick’s Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, Germany, is a well-researched scholar and delivers her information with great enthusiasm. Her lecture was enhanced by projected slides of Fredrick “the Great,” Quantz, and the palace. She brilliantly performed sonatas by Fredrick on a replica of a Quantz two-keyed traverso (E-flat and D-sharp keys) made by Jean-Francois Beaudin from Montreal, Canada.
“The performances by…flutist Oleskiewicz and David Schulenberg on keyboard are finely nuanced…lovers of chamber music with flute will certainly want to get this disc. Highly recommended.”
By BERTIL VAN BOER
for Fanfare Magazine, Mar./Apr. 2012
Today, the music of Quantz is largely relegated to that style we call Empfindsamkeit. Indeed, he is largely known only for his treatise On Playing the Flute published in Berlin in 1752, which contains a wealth of information on the musical life and practices of the period. Particularly his chamber works have often been seen as virtually identical to each other stylistically, predictable, and just the sort of “polite” music that would appeal to and not offend a powerful monarch. This in turn has relegated Quantz to that unenviable position of being a dull and predictable court composer whose works are somewhat static. Of course, in the real world, this reputation is hardly supportable, for the composer expanded the style and technical demands of the instrument tremendously. This recording of a selection of the vast repertoire he wrote for Frederick should underscore this point without question. We are presented here with seven sonatas that depict a wide variety of musical ideals …. In the first sonata in A Major, the chains of virtuoso motives in the first movement flow like a continuous stream, and I find it difficult to imagine where flutist Mary Oleskiewicz was able to breathe. The lilting Siciliano second movement is gentle and emotional, while in the E-Minor sonata’s second movement there is a hint of imitative counterpoint. Oleskiewicz points out that several of these works, most notably those beginning with the lyrical slow movements, predate his association with Frederick, but their style, with elements of emerging Classicism, must have been enjoyed during the soirées for their delicacy. Quantz not only knows how to compose for flute, he is adept at writing for other instruments as well. The trio sonata features a highly virtuoso harpsichord part, with the cello accompaniment banished to the far background as the flute and keyboard perform a complex and highly interactive dance with each other [Note by Mary: the cello does not perform in this work, in keeping with 18th-century practice!]. These sonatas are not just makework for some court, they are most individualistic and innovative (for their age), with special attention paid to the development of flute technique.
The performances by…flutist Oleskiewicz and David Schulenberg on keyboard are finely nuanced. The former performs on a replica of Frederick’s flute, which Quantz himself made for the king, and at a chamber tone pitch of A = 385 Hz. I find that this low center takes the edge off of particularly the technically demanding passages, allowing for better control of their musicality. Indeed, both are in complete harmony with each other…, seeming to
anticipate phrasing and subtle shifts in the rhythm and tempo. Cellist Stephanie Vial, with her rocksolid foundation work as part of the continuo, is the third equal partner in this team. In short, lovers of chamber music with flute will certainly want to get this disc. It will not only reveal Quantz in a new and vibrant light, it will show just how crucial he was to the music of the classical style. Highly recommended.
“The sweet-toned copies of the period wooden flutes played by Oleskiewicz and Beaudin weave a captivating spell of tonal beauty that is difficult to resist, even if you are not a devotee of period instruments.”
By MICHAEL CARTER
for Fanfare Magazine (Sept. 2003)
QUANTZ Flute Sonatas: in D, QV 1:42; in g, QV 1:116; in C, QV 1:9; in g, QV 1:128; Trio Sonatas: in D, QV
2:15;1 in E[flat ], QV 2:171 • Mary Oleskiewicz (fi); Jean-François Beaudin (fi);1 Stephanie Vial (vc); David
Schulenberg (hpd, fp) (period instruments) • NAXOS 8555064 (60:19)
The name of flutist and composer Joseph (sic; recte: Johann) Joachim Quantz (1697-1773) has been inextricably linked to that of Frederick II, King of Prussia, also known as ”Frederick the Great” and in less glowing terms as ”The Enlightened Despot.” Quantz was the King’s sole teacher, but only a single cog in the musical machinery that made up the monarch’s musical establishment: It also included–among others–Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, and Carl Heinrich and Johann Gottlieb Graun.
Quantz was the most important and influential composer of flute music during the 18th century, but he is chiefly remembered today as the tutor of Frederick II and for his Essay on Playing the Flute. Quantz’s musical legacy includes over 300 concertos for the instrument, 200-plus solo sonatas, 40 trio sonatas for violin and flute (or two flutes, the option exercised here) with figured bass, and half a dozen quartets for flute, violin, viola, and Generalbass. Quantz’s music was composed expressly for a series of musical events that Frederick II held on a nightly basis. Only the music of Quantz and that of his pupil–a composer of more than meager talent, by the way–was featured in these proceedings and only Quantz was allowed to critique the performances proffered by the monarch.
It is impossible to affix firm dates to any of this material since it was the exclusive property of Frederick II and not as much as a single note of it appeared in print during Quantz’s lifetime. In the annotations, Mary Oleskiewicz writes that the Sonata in G Minor–one of 20 found in a Berlin manuscript–is probably among the earliest. ”Dating from around 1720,” she adds, ”these pieces show the youthful composer testing his abilities by writing in a variety of styles, genres, and keys.” The program recorded here includes works that follow the four-movement blueprint of the sonata da chiesa and the three-movement schematic of the sonata da camera. Further, the music reflects a mixture of the dying Baroque and the emerging galant idioms. The opening Sonata in G is rooted in the latter, while the Trio Sonata in D leaves no doubt as to its Baroque origins. Throughout these works, Quantz employs the expected techniques (parallel thirds, imitation, etc.) but not to the point of tedium. There are also unexpected turns of harmony and even the occasional eyebrow-raising use of chromatics.
The sweet-toned copies of the period wooden flutes played by Oleskiewicz and Beaudin weave a captivating spell of tonal beauty that is difficult to resist, even if you are not a devotee of period instruments. There is an abundance of assurance and conviction to be found here as well. The expected nods to current thinking with regard to Baroque performance practice (improvised ornamentation, figured bass realization, etc.) are prudently employed, but never are they excessive. Apropos the figured bass, the carefully realized and exceptionally executed keyboard parts provide more than mere harmonic filler, with Schulenberg carefully taking his cues from the melody instruments.
This is not repertoire of genius, but its stature is surely elevated above the mean by virtue of unspoiled and exceptional exceution that leaves no stone unturned.