Flute Sonata No.2

George Frideric Handel

Flute Sonata No.2 in G major

HWV363b, Op. 1/5

About this work

Although republished in unauthorized editions by John Walsh in 1731, this sonata actually dates to the period 1712-1716, and figures in Handel's first opus, printed in Amsterdam around 1722. Oboists often stake a claim to it, especially when the work is transposed to F major; they maintain that the trumpet-like call in the Allegro is particularly oboe-like, although they concede that the Minuet is rather awkward for the oboe in this key.

The sonata begins with an Adagio that is derived from an aria in Handel's opera Rinaldo. Over a stately harpsichord accompaniment, the flute delivers a long-lined melody punctuated by brief sighing phrases. This leads with an unresolved cadence to the Allegro, which launches itself with the aforementioned stuttering trumpet call. The motif reappears frequently, and provides the basis of much of the harpsichord accompaniment, while the flute spins out highly florid melodic lines.

A second Adagio begins with a falling, stepwise figure in the continuo, whereupon the flute develops a broader, pensive melody that allows for generous ornamentation. The concluding Minuet (Handel uses the Italian spelling, Menuetto) is a lively, truly dancing piece that wouldn't be out of place in Water Music. Its duration is less a matter of tempo than how many repeats the performers choose to observe.