JS BACH Sonatas for Flute and Harpsichord (Schulz & Vinikour)
There’s a lot to enjoy across this Bach flute programme, not least Stephen Schultz’s flute itself: a copy of an instrument by the Turin maker Carlo Palanca, whose slightly more refined, soft-voiced Italian tone is a great match for Schultz’s own softly legato, Italianate lyricism; and indeed for the overall leisurely tempos he and Vinikour have taken across the disc. Those tempos have been capitalised upon to inject some nice interpretational touches, too: for instance the attractive way with which Schultz leans into his sustained third note in the BWV1030 Andante’s theme; also Vinikour’s left-hand ornamentations in the same movement. Likewise, there’s some beautiful detail to Schultz’s note-shadings in the Siciliano of BWV1031. Sure, if you prefer more forwards-pushing readings, there’s more urgent momentum in Musica Antiqua Köln’s even softer-voiced recording. Equally, if you like a bit of metrical push and pull then you may find the pulse of these a bit foursquare.
Still, my only half-criticism relates to the downloadable bonus track by the Pittsburgh composer Nancy Galbraith, a ‘meditation’ on that aforementioned Siciliano for three Baroque flutes and harpsichord (all three played by Schultz, recorded separately then overlaid). This is short (3'23"), simple and effective: Galbraith’s music is largely the original Siciliano coloured with extra flute embellishments and suspended harmonies. However, it’s also only available on the record label’s and Galbraith’s websites; and had it been slipped on to the physical or at least the streamed version, it might just have given what is overall a tastefully and musically done recording more of a USP.