CD Presentatie ‘Variations on Folk songs’, Olga Pashchenko – fortepiano & Anna Besson – fluit

26 aug 2021, 16.45
Luther Museum, Amsterdam
Olga Pashchenko - fortepiano Anna Besson - flute
Anna Besson & Olga Pashchenko - Variations © Lisa Lesourd

Anna Besson is a flautist with a passion for traditional music, who has already made an album of Irish folk music, The Dubhlinn Gardens (ALPHA447). For this new recording, she teams up with the Russian fortepianist Olga Pashchenko, an eminent specialist of Beethoven’s music, to which she has already devoted three discs on Alpha. Together they explore his interest in the popular melodies and the various folklores that make up the mosaic of European music by performing four of his ten ‘National Airs’ op.107 and two ‘themes with variations’ from op.105, which will take the listener from one end of the Old Continent to the other, from Scotland to Russia via Austria. The selection of works by Romantic composers that completes the programme shows how they shared the interest in folk material pioneered by Beethoven and his teacher Haydn – Swedish tunes for Kuhlau, Hungarian for Doppler, Auvergnese for Walckiers.

CD cover, by Alpha Classics

Variations on Folk Song – pianoforte & flute: Beethoven, Kuhlau, Walckiers & Doppler

Surprisingly, the Romantic repertory for flute is often neglected, sometimes even described as non existent, since no eminent composer wished to write for so imperfect an instrument. Yet even though the defects of the flutes of the day might be seen to justify this situation, many composers – often flautists themselves – paid their respects to what was nevertheless the favourite instrument of amateur musicians in the nineteenth century, and had no hesitation in calling for great technical virtuosity.

After Thomson had published 126 songs arranged for piano trio and voice, in 1819 Beethoven embarked on a new adaptation, in the form of variations for piano with flute or violin accompaniment, of seventeen folk tunes (‘National Airs’ in the British prints) from Scotland, Russia, Tyrol, France, Ireland and Italy, revealing his compositional genius yet again in his choice of colours appropriate to the character of each air.

Greatly marked by his meeting with Beethoven in Vienna in 1825, Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832) was one of the most important composers of Romantic flute music; his perfect knowledge of the organology of the instrument earned him the nickname ‘Beethoven of the flute’ from his contemporaries. In many of his works, Kuhlau pays tribute to Scandinavian folk music in sets of variations for flute or piano on Swedish, Danish and Norwegian tunes.

Eugène Walckiers’ (1793-1866) ‘Rondo auvergnat’, from ‘The flautist’s relaxations’ op.47, is prefaced by a humorous introduction setting the scene, which Walckiers added to help the performer recreate the powerful nasal tone of the bellows bagpipe used in the folk music of the Auvergne.

Composing essentially for his instrument, Austro-Hungarian flute virtuoso Franz Doppler (1821-1883) immersed himself, for the great majority of his output, in the folk music of central Europe. As a fervent advocate of the keyed flute, and his writing for it shows a great virtuosity that requires a perfect mastery of the instrument.

The CD ‘Variations on Folk Songs’ is released by Alpha Classics in 2021.
On 26 August available for €15,- (signed, but in cash only)

Anna Besson – Flute


Friedrich Kuhlau (1786 – 1832) : Grand Sonata pour pianoforte avec flûte obbligato op. 83 ‘Variations sur un Ancien air suédois’

L.V. Beethoven (1770 – 1827) : Theme and variations op. 107 (1817-1818) :  Air II : ‘Bonny laddie, highland laddie’ , Air V : ‘A Madel, ja a Madel’, Air VII : Air russe ‘Schöne Minka’, Air X : Air écossais ‘The Highland Watch’

E. Walckiers (1793 – 1866) : Délassemens du flûtiste op. 47 (1834) ‘Rondo Auvergnat’

L.V. Beethoven Sechs Varrirte Themen op. 105 Air III : Air Autrichien ‘A Schlusserl und a Reindl’, Air IV : Air irlandais ‘The last Rose of Summer’

L.V. Beethoven 32 Variations sur thème original in c minor WoO 80

F. Doppler (1821-1883) Fantaisie Pastorale Hongroise op.26

Dit concert & CD presentatie vindt plaats met inachtneming van de geldende corona veiligheidsvoorschriften, geen pauze, maar met feestelijk glas champagne voor aanvang.


Anna Besson – flute

Anna Besson, a graduate of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and the Haute École de Musique de Genève and winner of a scholarship from the Fondation Cziffra, is acknowledged for her mastery of both the modern flute and its earlier counterparts and her ability to interpret their repertories, from the late seventeenth century right up to new works of today, in accordance with the appropriate codes and techniques.

While regularly invited to play at the Paris Opéra and in chamber ensembles alike, she has pursued a parallel career on the Baroque flute as a soloist, and as a chamber and orchestral musician in such prestigious ensembles as Le Concert Spirituel, Les Arts Florissants, Insula Orchestra, Le Concert d’Astrée, La Chambre Philharmonique, and the quartet Nevermind.

She is a founding member of the ensemble a nocte temporis (dir. Reinoud Van Mechelen), with which she seeks to bring the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century repertory for tenor and flute to new heights. The group’s two recordings (Erbarme dich, 2016, and Clérambault, Cantates Françaises, 2018) received critical acclaim and were awarded two CHOC de Classica as well as Cinq Diapasons and the Caecilia Prize.

Her discography as a soloist includes Telemann’s Double Concerto for traverso and recorder with Erik Bosgraaf and Friends (Brilliant Classics, 2016), Telemann’s Paris Quartets with Nevermind (Alpha Classics, 2017), L’Horloge et l’âbime, a new work by Fabien Touchard (Hortus, 2018), The Dubhlin Gardens with a nocte temporis (Alpha, 2018) and Molter’s Concerto for traverso in D major with Die Kölner Akademie (CPO, 2020).

Anna Besson has been invited to perform in such leading concert halls and festivals as the Opéra Garnier and Opéra Bastille, the Philharmonie de Paris, the Elbphilharmonie, the Barbican Centre, the Boston Early Music Festival, the Utrecht Early Music Festival, MA Festival Bruges, the Salzburg Festival and the Festival Mezzo. She has recently been appointed professor of traverso at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in Brussels, and gives regular masterclasses and recitals in France and abroad.


Anna Besson & Olga Pashchenko - Variations © Lisa Lesourd

Luther Museum

Nieuwe Keizersgracht 570
1018 VG Amsterdam
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Anna Besson & Olga Pashchenko - Variations © Lisa Lesourd

Olga Pashchenko - fortepiano

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Anna Besson & Olga Pashchenko - Variations © Lisa Lesourd

Anna Besson - flute

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26 aug 2021, 16.45
Luther Museum, Amsterdam