Dorothea Seel is both a flutist and a musicologist, whose area of research is the playing techniques and sound aesthetics of 19th-century flutes. She has presented her research in her dissertation, Der Diskurs um den Klang der Flöte im 19. Jahrhundert (The Discourse about the Sound of the Flute in the 19th Century), published earlier this year by Kunstuniversität Graz, for which she has received the Award of Excellence from the Austrian government.
Her collaborator on this recording, Christoph Hammer, also a specialist in the music and instruments of the 19th century is, according to the liner notes, “also committed to the revival of less-well-known composers and the research and editing of their works.”
What I heard listening to this recording was something of a shock; it revealed an entirely different sound aesthetic from that with which I am familiar and, I would say, have come to expect, listening to recordings of music for the flute. As the liner notes explain, Seel’s research led her to “forgotten playing techniques... many of which would meet with the disapproval of modern-day exponents.” When I left behind my expectations, however, Hummel’s music took on an almost exotic quality, revealing the forgotten zeitgeist of a world long gone.
So, while I am not about to abandon my Boehm flute for an early 19th-century Viennese Ziegler instrument of the type played by Seel on this recording, I am extremely grateful for her work and her ability to translate her research into practice.