Strauss Family Orchestral Works
As a flautist Eckart Haupt has made something of a speciality of the flute concertos of C. P. E. Bach. For his most recent recording for the Capriccio label he turns to the recorder for various sonatas for that instrument by Italian composers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Charming and easy on the ear as much of this repertory is, one recorder sonata after another like this and they tend to blur into a very extended succession of binary movements of two basic types: fast and jumpy and slow and smooth. At least, to be fair to the composers, that is how they come out on Haupt's recording.
His grounding is clearly that of the Rampal flute school: it would again be unfair to say he had no affinity for the baroque idiom, but his concerns are not those shared by the 'authentic' school and his style of playing—for all its many good qualities sounds dated. Quality and evenness of tone are all in the Rampalian vision—and what good modern flute players it has produced. But seamless melody in a constant stream of vibrant, richtoned sound is not—and those who have sought to get to the bottom of all those treatises have revealed this to us—the best way to present the music of the baroque. For all his technique, then, Haupt does not bring the variety of attack and articulation that would allow this music—so uniform in many ways—to shine. Above all, what the 'authentic' movement has done is to draw our attention to phrasing as an expressive device in baroque (and even classical) music, to the shaping and shading of the notes themselves and, equally important, to the 'air' between them.
There is little space and not much shading here: ends of phrases as long in melodic span as the Forth Road Bridge are bumped; slow movements meander aimlessly and fast movements are generally clipped, however well executed. It is a question of attitude rather than one of skill: Haupt does produce a very pleasant, even beguiling, tone on his copies of original instruments (although purists will find the vibrato intrusive), and his musical insights are sound. His playing can be characterful, as in the C minor Sonata by Barsanti and, to a lesser extent, in Bononcini's Divertimento in the same key. But how off the mark he is stylistically is brought home by the concluding Frescobaldi group, though, it must be said, he is not helped by his rather wooden continuo team. It is a shame to have to be so negative: perhaps it is simply not fair to expect Eastern European performers to be in touch with the latest musical developments—yet.'