Plus connu pour son rôle politique et son efficacité militaire que pour son œuvre de compositeur Frederick II de Prusse « The great » a laissé quelques symphonies, concertos et sonates pour flûte. Elève de Joaquim Quantz et grand amateur d'art, il savait s'entourer d'artistes et de musiciens et fondera l’École de Berlin comprenant Quantz et les frères Benda et Graun entre autres. Sa rencontre avec Bach à Postdam conduira ce dernier à composer l'Offrande Musicale. Ce que dit Charles Burney du flûtiste pourrait très bien s'appliquer à la musique du compositeur : « His embouchure was clear and even his fingers brilliant, and his taste pure and simple. I was much pleased by the nearness of his execution in the Allegros as well by his expression and feeling in the Adagios ». Musique brillante, raffinée et d'une belle humilité pour l’œuvre d'un monarque. Grave ou allègre, il faut la saisir dans son instantanéité. Ce qu'hélas le duo Gian Luca Petrucci / Paola fisa ne parviennent guère à faire, se contentant d'une lecture prude et compassée avec des phrasés d'une égalité molle pour le flûtiste et un accompagnement plan-plan du côté clavecin. On se tournera plutôt vers Kujiken / Asperen (Sony) ou Oleskiewicz (Hungaroton). (Jérôme Angouillant)
Though Frederick II of Prussia, better known as “the Great” (1712–1786), was one of the greatest strategists of history, he found a way of reconciling his army life, his battles and his political determination with his passion for the flute and for music in general. He played every day, even when he was at war, and in the course of his life he composed, among other things, 121 sonatas and 4 concertos for flute, annotating some of these works with the phrase ‘Frederick composed [it] amidst torments’. In The Present State of Music in Germany, the Netherlands, and United Provinces, the English composer, organist and distinguished music historian Charles Burney (1726–1814) described Frederick’s performing style as follows: ‘his embouchure was clear and even, his fingers brilliant, and his taste pure and simple. I was much pleased, and even surprised by the neatness of his execution in the allegros, as well as by his expression and feeling in the adagios.’ In Potsdam Frederick had teachers of extraordinary skill, ranging from Johann Joachim Quantz to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and while he was certainly influenced by their style, he also proposed a style of his own that was not only closely associated with forms of ‘recitative’ influenced by vocal music, but also inspired – in certain respects – by his masonic faith. In fact, in his music one finds interesting esoteric symbolisms associated with numerology, masonic keys and the concept of the initiatory journey. Almost all the sonatas for flute and continuo are in three movements in an ascending progression of tempos: Adagio, Allegro, Presto. Of particular interest is the Sonata in C minor (King’s Catalogue No.190) in which an introductory Recitativo and an Andante cantabile lead to the closing movement, which is a Fugue (the only example of this genre of composition in all his works). Moreover, the subject of the fugue includes an evident reference to the ‘Thema Regium’, the famous theme that the King gave to Johann Sebastian Bach during their meeting in Potsdam in 1747, which formed the basis of the Musical Offering BWV1079.