August 2013 Convention
New Orleans, LA

Masterclass: Barthold Kuijken, Modern Flute

The 2013 convention program included a plethora of masterclasses with renowned teachers and players. The class taught by 2013 NFA Lifetime Award recipient Barthold Kuijken, on playing baroque music on the modern flute, was the first in a series of masterclasses to feature winners of the 2013 Masterclass Performers Competition. Pieces included “Les Folies d’Espagne,” by Marin Marais, performed by Hannah Hammel, and two sonatas by J. S. Bach (E-flat Major, BWV 1031, and E Major, BWV 1035), performed by Margaret Gregory and Roya Farzaneh, respectively.

Throughout the class, Kuijken shared from his wealth of knowledge about the history of the selected pieces, the composers, and appropriate style. He commented that the Marais is “not written for the flute, so it is a ‘translation,’ and translations are always less than ideal.” He stressed that, since this was originally for gamba, there are things in the part that are natural for that instrument (i.e. the arpeggios and even some of the variations in their entirety) but not for the flute, and he recommended getting rid of them (playing only the simple melody) and/or eliminating the variations that don’t work. In addition, flutists must find the gamba part, never listen to recordings (because they take away your freedom), and look at the score to find out how it sounds.

Barthold Kuijken and Student

Regarding the Bach Sonatas that were performed, Kuijken commented on the questionable validity of one or both of these two pieces actually being composed by Bach. He commented that different countries tend to interpret things differently, particularly tempo, so play according to your taste. In reference to stylistic elements—“swinging” the 16th notes, slurring vs. tonguing, style of tonguing, and adding ornaments—he recommended consulting the treatises of the time. One comment in particular about ornaments: “ornaments must be ‘echoed’ by the harpsichord,” so “judge what would or wouldn’t work on harpsichord and choose ornaments accordingly.” When a melody is heavily ornamented, as in the E Major Sonata, “find the simple melody, construct a simple version to understand the line. Don’t overdo the ornaments to overpower the melody.”

—Rebecca Hovan