The Spohr Collection

Ashley Solomon historical flutes, Reiko Ichise gamba, David Miller theorbo, Julian Perkins harpsichord
Channel Classics CCS 43020

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The repertoire on this beautiful CD is perhaps of secondary interest to the instruments it is played on. Fresh from a recording using George III’s Meissen porcelain and gold flute, the ever-enterprising Ashley Solomon has been exploring the historical flutes in a remarkable private collection of historical flutes in Frankfurt, the Spohr Collection. In all, he plays nine instruments, finding appropriate repertoire for each by Jacques Morel, Bach, Leclair, Hotteterre, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, Telemann and Locatelli. Beautifully illustrated on the CD cover, these spectacular Baroque instruments include particularly lovely instruments by Jakob Denner (inventor of the clarinet) and a couple of ivory instruments by Oberlender and Scherer (who also made a famous D clarinet in ivory). Expertly accompanied by his colleagues of Florilegium, Solomon’s consummate flute technique and superb musicality allow him to bring out the strengths of the various instruments. Even as only a very basic player of the Baroque flute, I was intrigued by the subtly different timbres of these instruments, and began to feel the eighteenth-century fascination with the instrument which verged on flautomania. I remember finding an 18th-century version of the complete Beggar’s Opera in the archives of Brodie Castle for unaccompanied flute, and wondering whether even I would want to sit through that complete performance – certainly if the player were Ashley Solomons and he had access to the Spohr Collection, I think I probably would!

D. James Ross

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