American Record Guide Januar/Februar 2011

Gasparo Fritz (1716-83) was a discovery to me. He was a Swiss violinist-composer who wrote in the post-baroque style of the students of JS Bach. He was born and lived in Geneva, which, owing to the predominant influence of Calvinism, was a largely unmusical city. He moved among a circle of expatriates who established a concert life in Geneva in the mid-18th Century, though little evidence of his musical activities has come down to us. His works, however, were published in Geneva, Paris, and London over 30 years from 1742, and distributed all over Europe. In his young adulthood, Fritz had studied in Turin with Giovanni Battista Somis, a student of Corelli who was also the teacher of violinist-composers Giardini, Pugnani, and Leclair. Thereafter Fritz remained almost entirely in Geneva, except two documented appearances in France, on the Concerts Spirituels in 1756 and on the estate of Voltaire in 1759.

The Six Sonatas for Violin or Transverse Flute first appeared in 1748, and only three copies of the original edition are known to be extant, though later editions followed. There is a four-movement sonata da chiesa, while the other five are, a la Tartini and Locatelli, in three-movement form (but not necessarily fast-slow-fast). They remind me of the sonatas of Giovanni Platti (c. 1700-63) and CPE Bach, and, in difficulty, the late 18th Century sonatas of flutist-composer Francois Devienne. Typical of rococo or empfindsam style, the sonatas are supplied with a maximum of ornamentation, both notated and added by the performers. Some widely-spaced grace notes are probably double-stops, and in the second sonata there is a notated cadenza.This is a period instrument performance by Claire Genewein, flute; Maya Amrein, cello; and Nicoleta Paraschivescu, harpsichord. Genewein is an accomplished German-born flutist who studied both the baroque and modern instruments in Austria, Holland, and Switzerland. She plays extrmely wee, and her sound is sweet and gentle. Tempos are invariably interesting, and because of the lavish writing, the music always stays busy. The only bad quality to the performance is occasional stepwise chromaticism that may sound better on violin, but the sonatas actually work very well on flute. I would gladly listen to the Ensemble Arcadia again.The notes are in English and German, and the cover art is a view of Geneva c. 1790—after the composer had died. Nice try.