Johan Helmich ROMAN (1694-1758)
Sonata VI in B minor, BeRI 206 [12:26]
Sonata VII in G major, BeRI 207 [12:50]
Sonata VIII in A major, BeRI 208 [11:50]
Sonata IX in C major, BeRI 209 [14:32]
Sonata X in E minor, BeRI 210 [11:18]
Sonata XI in G minor, BeRI 211 [09:07]
Sonata XII in D major, BeRI 212 [08:33]
Dan Laurin (recorder)
Anna Paradiso (harpsichord)
Mats Olofsson (cello)
Jonas Nordberg (baroque guitar and theorbo)
Paradiso Musicale
rec. Petruskyrkan, Stocksund, Sweden, October 2013 (VI), December 2014 (VII-XII)
BIS BIS-2155 SACD [82:12]

I first became acquainted with the music of Johan Helmich Roman quite a few years ago. It was when a student from Sweden, who was studying for her Ph.D. at the local university, gave a talk on the music of her homeland at a recorded music society meeting. I remember being particularly taken with the Roman pieces she played, even though the flute sonata was performed on modern instruments, which was all that was available at the time. Since that time I have invested in a number of discs featuring the music of this Swedish master. He has been variously called ‘the father of Swedish music’, and ‘the Swedish Handel’. These discs have included a couple of recordings of the flute sonatas, my favourite being that by Verena Fischer and friends (Naxos 8.570492-93). Fischer plays a wooden transverse flute and is therefore probably the most authentic of the recordings I have, the present disc included.

At the time of composition of these sonatas the recorder was the most common wind instrument in Stockholm. It was used across all spectrums of society, including the royal court. The flute, on the other hand, was the reserve of the upper classes and the well-to-do. It is known that Roman composed these pieces for the flute and not the recorder. He targeted the upper echelons of society probably because they were the ones who could afford to buy the music. So this raises the question of why should the virtuoso recorder player, Dan Laurin, choose to play and record music which was destined to be performed on a different instrument. When the playing is as good as this, who cares.

This disc, along with its earlier companion (BIS-2105), presents all the twelve sonatas in a manner which is noteworthy and highly recommendable. Whilst Fischer’s sound may be more akin to what would have been experienced in the first half of the eighteenth century, Laurin's playing brings a new mellifluousness and beauty to this music. He gives a performance in which any historical accuracy is soon forgiven. The support offered by Paradiso Musicale is excellent, with the inclusion of the baroque guitar and theorbo a winner as it gives the music extra depth. Dan Laurin also writes a fine introduction to this music, whilst Eva Helenius provides a more considered and excellent introduction to the composer and his use of the flute. The acoustic is very pleasing and helps to bring out the smooth character of the instrument.

Stuart Sillitoe

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