DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

“Flute Concertos at Sanssouci” – A Tribute to Frederick the Great, Blu-ray (2012)

A decadent immersion in the world of Frederick the Great's court and music.

Published on November 14, 2012

“Flute Concertos at Sanssouci” – A Tribute to Frederick the Great, Blu-ray (2012)

Director: Beatrix Conrad
Performers: Emmanuel Pahud, flute/ Kammerakademie Potsdam/Trevor Pinnock
Live recording from Schloss Sanssouci, Potsdam
Studio: C Major [Distr. by Naxos]
Video: 16:9 1080i HD
No region code
Audio: PCM Stereo; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0
Subtitles: English
Length:  78 minutes
Rating: *****

The widespread rejoicing in Germany that has taken place this year to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Frederick the Great’s birthday has produced a lot of very beautiful fluting and the return to public attention of some minor but very lovely music. The music assembled for this live concert at the Royal Theatre of Potsdam’s Neues Palais, includes an industriously gracious concerto by Frederick himself and a variety of even more exquisite music by key members of the composing circle he gathered around him at his royal court in Potsdam.

Emmanuel Pahud, of course, is the current golden flute, with his elegant phrasing and many-colored tone that flashes like sunlight in the stream. He has an absolute command of the notes he plays, and lays them on with a beguiling blend of modern technique and Baroque performance practice mastery. With Pahud, the trills are particularly thrilling.

Backing him, the original instrument Kammerakademie Potsdam is crisp, bouncy and sumptuous all at the same time (and all musicians who clean up well), and Trevor Pinnock at the keyboard and leading the festivities is his usual delightful self whenever Beatrix Conrad’s lively, absorbing camerawork cuts to him.

I hesitated before giving this five stars because some of the music is less top drawer; but the thing is so decadent, every measure drenched in beauty of one kind or another, that I can’t resist. Just be warned that listening and watching Pahud putting his lips to solo Quantz and CPE Bach works can become a very guilty pleasure.


1-3 Concerto for Flute no 3 in C major by Frederick the Great

4 Capriccio in G major by Johann Joachim Quantz

5 Capriccio in B major by Johann Joachim Quantz

6-8 Concerto for Flute no 161 in G major, QV 5 no 174 by Johann Joachim Quantz

9 Prelude in D major by Johann Joachim Quantz

10-12 Concerto for Flute in E minor by Franz Benda

13-15 Sonata for Flute solo in A minor, Wq 132/H 562 by Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach

—Laurence Vittes

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