Volume 67, Summer 2011
August Eberhard Müller Concerto for flute in E minor
ed CHRISTOPHER HOGWOOD,
Edition HH, HH249.FSC, Bicester, 2010
(pbk, £18 full score; £12.95 keyboard
reduction) ISMN M 979 0 708092 049
Edition HH strikes gold once more with the beautifully clear publication of the flute concerto in E minor by August Eberhard Müller (1767-1817), edited and annotated by Christopher Hogwood and Nikolai Jaeger. Having abandoned law studies in favour of a musical career, this talented organist, pianist and flautist moved to Leipzig in 1794, where he was principal flute in the Gewandhaus Orchestra. He subsequently held the positions of organist at the Nikolaikirche and Kantor at the Thomaskirche before moving to Weimar, where he lived until his death. He was an admirer and champion of the music of Haydn and Mozart, directing performances of Die Schopfung and Mozart's Requiem, and writing cadenzas for Mozart's piano concertos; therefore it is hardly surprising that their influence permeates Müller's compositions.
A forward-looking performer and teacher, Müller wholeheartedly recommended the very latest four- to eight-keyed flutes instead of the old one-keyed traverso, on account of the advantages they offered: ease of intonation, uniformity of strength and, in particular, their powerful 'cutting' quality in the low register. One detects a fluid emancipation in his E minor concerto, which exploits to the full all the improvements and possibilities of this new instrument. The concerto is in a mature, classical idiom which Müller employs with considerable verve and imagination; it probably dates from 1801, which was also the year in which he produced an arrangement for flute of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto K.622. That work's extended range, operatic expression and frequent use of large, dramatic intervals can all be found here, too.
The opening Allegro contains much bravura solo passagework, and lines which soar from the very top register of the flute down to the depths. In this and in the final movement, Müller writes low-lying melodies accompanied by sustained string chords, which would have been inaudible if played on a one-keyed flute. Throughout the concerto there are telltale signs of his debt to Mozart; in fact many of his melodies, with their accompaniments and scoring, are reminiscent of those of Mozart.
In the second movement, a tender, expressive Adagio in E Major, the solo flute is beautifully supported by strings and a pair of horns, creating a simple elegance which, again, pays homage to the slow movements of Mozart's piano concertos. The flute begins the perky, virtuosic finale, Allegretto con Variazioni, in which lively dotted rhythms and the key of E minor establish a Bohemian flavour. The variations become progressively more complex, calming briefly in E major and (another Mozartian trait) ending in a new compound-time signature. A frivolous musical joke rounds off this most appealing work.
Flautists will be grateful to Hogwood and Jaeger for producing this edition of an excellent and playable classical flute concerto, with its succinct and helpful performance notes. It offers an interesting and refreshing alternative to the often-performed works of Mozart and could well become a great favourite on the concert platform. If Müller's remaining ten flute concertos are of similar calibre, they surely merit future publication.
We are grateful to theThe Consort for permission to reproduce this review.