Gaby Pas-Van Riet breathes life into Schneider flute concertos

Georg Abraham Schneider is best remembered (if remembered at all) as a horn virtuoso. He was an exact contemporary of Beethoven, and one of the first players to adopt the valved horn in 1800. 

Schneider was also a composer and a teacher. He was a member of the Royal Orchestra in Berlin until it disbanded in 1806 when Napoleon invaded. For the duration, Schneider’s income primarily depended on his published compositions.

After the war, Schneider returned to reconstituted Prussian Royal Court Orchestra as a horn player. But increasingly he moved towards conducting, concert organization, and composing. From 1833 on, Schneider was primarily a composer and teacher of composition. 

Schneider wrote the first music for the valved horn. But he composed much more besides — including concertos not just for his own instrument. This album, for example, presents three of his flute concertos. The earliest was written in 1806 when Schneider was 36. The latest was published in 1812, just six years later.

The three concertos are stylistically consistent. All are three-movement works and seem inspired by Mozart. The melodies are tuneful. Schneider’s music has the elegant balance of the late classical era. I think these concertos compare favorably to Mozart’s, though written much later. 

Gaby Pas-Van Riet performs with a modern flute. Her playing has a softness and warmth I quite liked. Johannes Moesus leads the Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn in some thoughtful performances. He keeps the ensemble sounding light and transparent throughout. This highlights Schneider’s affinity for Mozart.

These are well-constructed works, that serve both the soloist and the audience. There are plenty of technical challenges for the soloist. And for the listener, plenty of well-crafted melodies. Schneider was a skilled composer, and I’m glad these works were revived. They definitely deserve the chance to find an audience once again. 

Georg Abraham Schneider: Three Flute Concertos
Gaby Pas-Van Riet, flute
Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn; Johannes Moesus, conductor

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