Carl Friedrich Abel, William Flackton, George Frideric Handel
KATHRYN STEELY, viola
Vincent Devries, Harpsichord
Adrienne Steely, Cello
“As these sonatas rarely appear in recitals, this CD should be welcomed. Indeed, it seems to be the only music by Flackton currently available. The Handel Sonata in G minor … is a fine piece in four movements [and] suits the viola well. Ms. Steely makes a handsome sound … it is good to have this unfamiliar repertoire available on CD.”
Philip Borg-Wheeler, MusicWeb International – January 2012
"The performers are technically proficient, making Flackton’s lovely music the center of attention, as it should be. Nothing is exaggerated; tempos are well chosen. The program is very attractive and well recorded. Anyone looking to explore the byways of late Baroque chamber music will find this disc a delight."
Ron Salemi, Fanfare - July/August 2011
"Kathryn Steely has a beautiful viola tone, and thank God she hasn’t succumbed to the antivibrato forces in musicology; she plays a rich sounding modern instrument... her playing is excellent; the harpsichord has a full, round sound and a mellifluous lute stop."
Estep, American Record Guide - July/August 2011
"This is an enjoyable collection that should win fans for the very agreeable music of Mr. Flackton. The performers, all with connections to Baylor University, do Flackton proud. Kathryn Steely, associate professor of viola at Baylor, has a rich tone and plays very cleanly, with a fine sense of style. Her daughter Adrienne, who joins her on cello in the Abel, is certainly no slouch herself and produces an equality mellow and flowing tone. "
Lee Passarella, Audiophile Audition - May 2011
PROGRAM NOTESA collection of sonatas including some of the earliest English music written specifically for the viola.
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William Flackton (1709-1798) of Canterbury was an accomplished organist, violinist and music publisher. He served as a principal organizer of public concerts in Canterbury through much of his life. His most enduring accomplishment was the publication of his opus 2 viola sonatas, likely the first English sonatas written specifically for that instrument. Flackton’s Opus 2 (three sonatas for cello and three for viola) was first published in 1770 and was apparently well received. In 1776, Flackton published a second edition along with a supplement containing two additional sonatas, one for cello and one for viola. His specific goal was to bring attention to the “Tenor Violin” (viola). From his preface to the 1770 edition:
…The solos for a Tenor Violin are intended to shew that instrument in a more conspicuous manner, than it has hitherto been accustomed; the part generally allotted to it being little more than a dull ripiano, an accessory, or auxiliary, to fill up or compleat the harmony in full pieces of music; though it must be allowed , that at some particular times, it has been permitted to accompany a Song, and likewise to lead in a fuge; yet even then, it is assisted by one, or more instruments in unisons or octaves, to prevent if possible, its being distinguished from any other instrument; or, if it happens to be heard but in so small a space as a bar or two, tis’ quickly overpowered again with a crowd of instruments and lost in chorus.
Such is the present state of this fine toned instrument*, owing, in some measure, to the want of solos, and other pieces of music,
properly adapted to it**.
The author takes this opportunity of acknowledging his particular obligations to Mr. Abel, for inspecting this work in manuscript before it went to the Press; the publication of which, it is hoped, may be productive of other works of this kind from more able hands***, and establish a higher veneration and Taste for this excellent tho’ too much neglected instrument.
*The greatest masters allow the Tenor Violin to have a
particular delicacy of tone.
**Upon enquiry at all of the music shops in London for Tenor solos, none were to be found, neither was it known by them that any were ever published.
***Since this work was printed, several publications have appeared intitled, Quartettos and Quintettos, wherein a much greater regard is paid to the tenor than usual and considering the present growing attention given to it, by the most eminent composers; little doubt is to be made of seeing it soon rank amongst the first class of instruments.
By the time Flackton published his opus 2 sonatas, the music publishing business in London was thriving. Not only did the city offer a range of concert series and performances by many European masters, there was also a lively culture of household music making, with amateurs providing a steady market for works published for these more intimate settings. London was also the scene of a continued interest in earlier works of Purcell, Corelli and Handel. For the amateur musician, tasteful and artistic music in this older Corelli-an style, with its simpler textures and graceful melodic writing, was much in demand. These works provided models for Flackton’s composition of the Opus 2 sonatas.
Although German by birth, George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) spent much of his career in London and is most well-known for his contributions to the operatic and oratorio repertoire. His chamber music output is focused mainly on solo and trio sonatas. The G minor Sonata, Op. 1 No. 6 (Walsh, 1733) appears for Hoboy Solo in the collection Solos for a German Flute, a Hoboy or Violin, with a Thorough Bass for the Harpsichord or Bass Violin. Handel suggests alternate instrumentation in the manuscript, providing several bars written out an octave lower in alto clef with the words “per la viola da gamba.”
The “Mr. Abel” referenced by Flackton in his Opus 2 preface was presumably the well-known viola da gambist Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787) who, along with Johann Christian Bach, was an active participant in the London musical scene. Abel was a prolific composer and his music was widely performed. The Sonata in C major WKO 184, recorded here with viola and cello, is an example from the set of sonatas for viola da gamba and bass instrument found in the manuscript known as the Music Book of the Countess of Pembroke.
All of these works can be played as duo sonatas with solo instrument and violoncello or keyboard instrument, or in the traditional continuo sonata configuration of solo instrument, keyboard and a low instrument outlining the bass line. While most players exploring this repertoire may have limited access to the use of a harpsichord, the combination of modern viola and harpsichord is one that provides fresh clarity and enlivens the texture of these charming works.
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Kathryn Steely is Associate Professor of Viola at Baylor University and received Baylor University’s Outstanding Professor Award for Teaching in 2007. Prior to her appointment at Baylor, Dr. Steely was a member of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in Florida. She is a frequent recitalist and avid chamber musician and has performed at two International Viola Congresses, National Flute Convention, Mostly Music series of the University of Chicago and Armonico Chamber series in Austin, Texas. Dr. Steely has appeared as a soloist with the Jacksonville Symphony, Baylor University Wind Ensemble, Baylor Symphony and performed with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Fort Worth Symphony, Dallas Chamber Orchestra, Fort Worth-Dallas Ballet, Akron Symphony, Ohio Chamber Orchestra, Wichita Symphony and as principal violist with the Rockford and Waco Symphonies. Dr. Steely earned the Doctor of Music degree in Viola Performance from Northwestern University, the Master of Music in Viola Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethel College (KS). Her principal teachers include Peter Slowik, Heidi Castleman, Lynn Ramsey and Donald McInnes. She has served as Editor of the Journal of the American Viola Society, two terms on the AVS national executive board and nine years as the AVS webmaster. She is a founding member of the faculty of the CREDO Chamber Music program in Oberlin, Ohio, www.credochambermusic.org. Dr. Steely is in frequent demand as both adjudicator and master class presenter. Among other engagements, she served on the jury of the 2003 Primrose International Viola Competition and as a featured master class presenter at the 2004 and 2009 American String Teacher’s Association National Conventions. She plays on a 2006 viola by Alan and Sarah Balmforth.
Dr. Steely is joined in the Abel Sonata by her daughter, cellist Adrienne Steely, a student at Baylor University.
Vincent de Vries is an active performer, presenting recitals as a collaborative artist, soloist, duo pianist and organist. Prior to his appointment at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, he was serving as an Assistant Professor of Piano and Director of Collaborative Piano at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He also served as an Assistant Instructor at The University of Texas at Austin, teaching instrumental accompanying to undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. de Vries received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from The University of Texas at Austin. He also holds a Performer’s Diploma from The Royal Conservatory in The Hague, The Netherlands and a Master’s degree from Bowling Green State University. His principal teachers have included Nancy Garrett, Edward Auer, Jerome Rose and Theo Bruins, and he has performed in the master classes of such pianists as Earl Wild, Vladimir Tropp, Lev Vlasenko, Arnaldo Cohen, Claude Frank and Jerome Rose. DeVries is the recipient of many scholarships and has won awards in several competitions, among them first prize in the National Young Artist Competition in The Netherlands and first prize in the Sydney Wright Accompanying Competition at The University of Texas at Austin. In addition to his piano performances, he is a highly regarded concert organist, with more than three hundred solo recitals and eight organ solo CDs to his credit. In 2003, Dr. de Vries received the silver medal from the Arts, Sciences, et Lettres in Paris for his contributions to the French organ literature. Recent CD releases include Into the 21st Century and In a Lyrical Way with horn soloist Jeffrey Powers as well as a duo-pianist recital with Bradley Bolen featuring the works of Brahms, Poulenc, Rachmaninov and Milhaud, all on MSR Classics.
PROGRAMWILLIAM FLACKTON (1709 – 1798)
SONATA IN C MAJOR, OP. 2/4
Minuetto I - Variation - Minuetto II
SONATA IN C MINOR, OP. 2/8
Minuetto & Variation
SONATA IN D MAJOR, OP. 2/5
Minuetto I & II
SONATA IN G MAJOR, OP. 2/6
Minuetto I & II
GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL (1685 – 1759)
SONATA IN G MINOR, OP. 1/6, HWV 364A
CARL FRIEDRICH ABEL (1723 – 1787)
SONATA IN C MAJOR, WKO 184
Tempo di Minuetto