A Viennese Bouquet: Music for flute and piano

Melissa Farrow, Erin Helyard

A Viennese Bouquet: Music for flute and piano
Compact disc
Abc Classic
15 September 2023

A Viennese Bouquet: Music for flute and piano

Melissa Farrow, Erin Helyard

Exquisite eloquence from Australia's foremost Baroque and Classical flute virtuoso, Melissa Farrow. Well known to Australian audiences as a featured artist with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Australian Haydn Ensemble and Pinchgut Opera, this is her first solo album: a deep dive into the elegant musical salons of early 19th-century Vienna. Sublime melodies, joyous virtuosity, and delicate nuances of colour: Farrow plays the nine-key instrument prized by composers of the day, where each note has multiple possible fingerings, each with its own subtle shades of timbre. Capable of expressing a vast range of emotions, the instrument was, as the great German Romantic Jean Paul described it, ‘a divining rod, plumbing the depths of the soul.’

Farrow is joined by ARIA Award-winning pianist Erin Helyard, long a favourite with Australian audiences, hailed by Limelight magazine as 'Australia's most engaging soloist'. Artistic Director and co-founder of Pinchgut Opera and the Orchestra of the Antipodes, which he directs from the keyboard, Helyard has forged new standards of excellence in historically performed performance in Australia.

A Viennese Bouquet traces the expanding world of the flute in the early Romantic era: from the intimacy of the private home to the public sphere of the concert hall, applauding the new breathtaking feats of technical prowess while continuing to prize simple, tuneful elegance.

The album begins with Beethoven’s delightful variations on the folk tune ‘The Last Rose of Summer’and ends with the rarely performed Rondo by Franz Xaver Mozart, the younger of the only two sons to survive their father, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In between are grand sonatas by some of the finest Viennese composers of the day: Friedrich Kuhlau, Anton Eberl and August Eberhard Müller, plus a dazzling set of variations by the remarkable Leopoldine Blahetka, one of the most important female musicians anywhere in Europe in the 19th century.


Vienna was beset with war at the beginning of the 19th century, when it was taken by the French twice during the Napoleonic Wars. By 1814, the Congress of Vienna took place, and the political map of Europe was redrawn. While all this drama was going on, musicians, artists and composers were starting a musical revolution, morphing the Classical era into the Romantic style with more dynamics, more emotion and, on a flute, more keys and more expectations.

Melissa Farrow is well known in Australian Baroque circles as a virtuoso on traverso period instruments. Principal flute of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, she has recorded extensively and performed around Australia. Joining forces with Erin Helyard, the esteemed pianist and artistic director of Pinchgut Opera, they celebrate this moment in Viennese history with music by Beethoven, Franz Xaver Mozart, Kuhlau and more.

Farrow performs these works on a nine-key flute, which was prized by composers of the day for its ability to coax a variety of timbres from the instrument thanks to the different fingerings available. This is such a diverse repertoire, Farrow has her work cut out for her. These works plumb the depths of lyricism in Beethoven’s sublime Last Rose of Summer (1819) and yet wow audiences with technical mastery on show during the Grande Sonate Op. 38 (1814) by August Eberhard Müller. If you haven’t heard any F.X. Mozart (son of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart), then the Rondo in E Minor (1810) is a delight. It’s a piece that is strangely fiddly to play, and yet Farrow makes it sound effortless. Throughout it all Helyard is, as always, delightful on the fortepiano, taking off like a bird in flight when he’s given moments to shine.

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