C.P.E. and the Transverse Flute

Today’s shaping up to be a data-mining/data-compiling/mail-merging kind’o’day. In other words, an “I Must Listen To Music Or I Shall Run Mad” sort of day. Luckily, there’s an Internet for that.

Here. This should get your toes a-tappin’:

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That, as you doubtless instantly recognized, is the great-(if overshadowed just a touch by his dad)-C.P.E. Bach’s G Major Concerto “a flauto traverso obligato…” Or, in English, his Concerto for Transverse Flute. In G Major. And it’s great stuff. I should be able to plow through a veritable torrent of data with this baby in my earbuds. (Especially the finale. I love a good Allegro Assai as much as the next guy. And this is definitely a good one; great, even.)

What’s that, you say? You NEVER listen to just one transverse flute concerto at a time? Only flauto traverso obligato concerti?

Perfectly understandable. I’m the same way, myself. And no worries:

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I’m not entirely clear on the distinction between a “regular” flute and the “Transverse” myself, especially since it seems to mostly mean “Not a Recorder.” Oh, and “Not One of These, Either.” In some places, it’s called a “Cross Flute,” which indicates its most distinctive feature: It’s played sideways …Or should I say”cross-wise?” In other words, a regular flute. (Don’t even get me started on The Boehm System Flute. We’ll be here all day.)

Also, just for the heck of it, here’s a sorta-portrait of C.P.E. Bach, painted by Adolph Menzel. In it, CPE is seen at the keyboard, accompanying Frederick the Great during a performance of a concerto for…wait for it…transverse flute.

About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, being amazed by his (currently) lone daughter, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.

  • Tom Hanson

    My own favorite CPE Bach piece doesn’t feature a solo flute. His Magnificat is magnificent, and especially in the choral movements you can hear the Classical era coming into being. A much under-appreciated musician today. For my money the finest composer between Handel and the great Papa Haydn. I do have to admit that like everybody else, pretty much, I haven’t heard a lot of music from his betwixt and between time.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/summathissummathat Joseph Susanka

      I’m not familiar with his Magnificat, Tom. Luckily, I have Naxos Music Library, so my ignorance (at least on this score) is rectifiable. Thanks for the recommendation!


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