Luigi Hugues (1836-1913), Ernesto Köhler (1849-1907)
Unpublished Music for Flute and Piano
The names Hugues and Kohler, even to the most expert musicologists, conjure up an image of Nordic scientists who instill fear and mystery. Instead, these men were simply flutists and concert artists, as well as composers in 19th-century Italy—certainly not minor figures, but still virtually unknown. Together with other flutists of the time, they are considered to be the true initiators of a budding professionalism in the area of performance pedagogy. They played music which they themselves composed, but were also the dedicatees of many world premieres. Luigi Hugues, a mild-mannered man with a variegated and thorough culture, distinguished himself in his works for flute and piano by his clear and sweet style. The long phrases are quite demanding for the flutist and highlight a lyricism “contaminated” by the operatic repertoire, though the composer refrains from utilizing classic paraphrases of popular operas. The refined interpretation of the duo underscores clear contrasts in which Italian passion is invariably present without ever boring the listener. E. Kohler, on the other hand, was a Mason (like a majority of artists) who separated cultivated flute-playing from dilettante band music. This ideology of the Risorgimento left the masses behind, ignorant and above all disoriented. E. Kohler’s writing, with its greater technical demands, contrasts with the melodic linearity of Hugues. Even the minor key of the concerto is permeated by a strong character and evident élan. The cadenza of the Adagio, in particular, from the collection of Studi di Virtuosità op. 75, contains chromatic and virtuosic progressions with herald the next century. One should listen to these seven pieces attentively in order to enter into the distant world, still lying in the shadows of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s Gattopardo.