Reviews

Galway Flute Festival: The Guest Artists

Posted by on Aug 1, 2017 in August 2017, Concert Reviews, Featured, Issues, Reviews | 0 comments

Galway Flute Festival: The Guest Artists

  The Guest Artists of the Galway Flute Festival gave incredible masterclasses and concerts and came from all over the world. We asked them about their experiences at the festival, their flute stories, and advice they would offer to young students.      Kersten McCall Artist in Residence Philipp Jundt Switzerland/Korea Nicola Mazzanti Italy Irina Stachinskaya Russia Juliette Hurel France Stephen Clark Scotland Barbara Kortmann Germany Ernesto Fernandez USA Andrea Griminelli Italy and of course, Sir James Galway Thank you for...

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Bill McBirnie: Album Review

Posted by on Jul 1, 2017 in CD Reviews, Featured, Issues, July 2017, Reviews | 0 comments

Bill McBirnie: Album Review

Bill McBirnie & Bruce Jones, Grains of Sand Bill McBirnie’s new collaboration album with Bruce Jones is a wonderful melding of creativity! Jones, the composer on these tracks plays guitar, percussion and synths as well as the vocals and McBirnie is on flute, alto flute and piccolo as well as co-composing on tracks 3,5,9 and 11. The music is diverse as Jones, though brought up in Brazil, combines many other influences into his output including, rock, hip hop and new age, as well as improvisation. Bill describes their way of working together like this: “A project of this nature—involving just the two of us—takes considerable time to complete and so it inevitably proceeds in stages. Each track starts with Bruce writing, playing and recording whatever idea he has in mind. After Bruce has laid down what is a fairly complete track, we then overlay any flute melodies he has in mind. In addition, we conjure up shots and harmony parts and overdub these. After that, we go back and I improvise over the entire track. Finally, we take whatever we have (…which is typically too much…) edit it and mix it down. Of course, we “subtract” far more than we “add” as the process unfolds until sooner or later (…usually later…) we find what we’re after.” I love this description of perfect collaboration and it shows in the album. The melodies and tunes are excellent and the flute(s) improv’s are original, brilliant and exciting. The layering of the alto, flute and piccolo are seamless and the Bruce’s vocals add the perfect addition contrast. Bill is a virtuoso player, with a beautiful expressive sound and masterful fingers! When I listen to this album I feel very happy!!! www.extremeflute.com extremeflute@look.ca -Barbara Siesel...

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Rozalind MacPhail: Album Review

Posted by on Jul 1, 2017 in CD Reviews, Featured, Issues, July 2017, Reviews | 0 comments

Rozalind MacPhail: Album Review

Rozalind MacPhail grew up in Canada on a small group of islands nestled in the harbour of Toronto, Ontario called Toronto Island. She has lived in many parts of Canada but it was the artistically vibrant city of St. John’s, Newfoundland that stole her heart. Following years of classical music performance training at the Etobicoke School of the Arts,  University of Toronto and University of Ottawa, she has pursued her interest in a wide range of musical genres, while performing as guest flutist with other artists, including Yo La Tengo, Lou Barlow, Constantines, Great Lake Swimmers, Elliott Brood and Pick a Piper. Rozalind MacPhail recently won MusicNL's Female Artist of the Year and an East Coast Music Award for Electronic Recording of the Year.   “It can be so unsettling when we are forced to let go of loved ones, get rid of bad habits, deal with painful memories or change unhealthy life patterns. We hope this music will help you cope with life’s unexpected moments. May it ease you into the present moment, help you feel grounded and capable of facing any challenge that comes your way." Rozalind MacPhail Rozalind continues, "The parts were actually recorded to the sunrise each day for the entire month of February and I kept my first take of all the flute parts. It was inspired by the death of famous Newfoundland stained glass artist, Graham Howcroft who was my friend and roommate.  Kim Henninger and Shawn Parke of Portland, Oregon (film composers of EMBERS and LUCKY) created the electronics so it was a collaborative effort.  Stephen Vardy is a yoga and meditation instructor at Moksha Yoga in St. John's."   "Sunset Sunrise" music is for connecting to our higher selves, for rising above daily concerns, to open into the space of Love. The CD opens with sustained electronic sounds and a guided meditation by Stephen Vardy. The second track begins with sustained electronic sounds which provide a nice foundation for the soaring and sparing flute lines. When the bansuri flute finally enters, it is as if one can actually see the sun rising. This is a long, 25 minute track, perfect for a morning meditation. The third track entitled, Sunset, features another bed of electronic sounds and light tabla sounds actually captured on the flute! and overtone sounds for 25 minutes making this the consummate meditation CD, one track perfectly tailored for the morning and the other one for the evening. The album liner notes suggest the following:   Get yourself comfortable and take a moment to relax, rejuvenate and release your day! We hope this music will help you cope with life’s unexpected moments. May it ease you into the present moment, help you feel grounded and capable of facing any challenge that comes your way.   MacPhail says, “There is a great need in our world right now to find ways of tapping into our inner peace while being in the midst of so much uncertainty.” Rozalind MacPhail certainly has created a beautifully serene way to invoke meditation. Perfect for daily meditations, this digital album, "Sunset Sunrise",  is a perfect companion to any meditation routine.  Rozalind MacPhail is a fountain of creativity, a plethora of surprises and colors. -Viviana Guzman Listen to Rozalind MacPhail's Bandcamp link...

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Righteous Girls: Concert Review

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in Concert Reviews, Featured, Issues, June 2017, Reviews | 0 comments

Righteous Girls: Concert Review

Righteous Girls, a duo of Gina Izzo (flute) and Erika Dohi (piano), is not your typical flute and piano duo.  I wasn't really sure what to expect when attending their Lincoln Center debut sponsored by Chamber Music New York, but I was impressed and entranced throughout their entire program of music composed after the year 2000. What was unique about Righteous Girls was their use of live electronics and looping, adding many more layers to the traditional flute and piano ensemble, giving a full spectrum of sound that one does not usually hear.  All the music was very contemporary but nothing too atonal and all sonically pleasing, much of it with minimalist influences.  The repertoire was unique and fresh, unknown (yet) to the flute community, but I see their music having its place there soon.  It was quite refreshing for me to hear a program of flute and piano pieces I have never heard before.  Their program was virtually seamless, with each piece flowing into the next. Righteous Girls also composes some of their music, using reverb, delay, and some live processed effects.  My favorite piece, and the standout of the evening, was their arrangement of Andy Ahiko's 21 (originally for cello and steel pan drum).  I was amazed by the various looping, pedals, and even addition of a bass drum.  The piece was lively, rhythmic, visually interesting, and I kept wanting to hear more! On Andy Akiho’s 21, I was using three different foot pedals to navigate my way through the piece. The first one was a pedal for my iPad page turn, as there are not many (if any) points throughout the piece where I can focus on removing my hands from the flute to turn the page. Ideally in the future, this will be memorized to have one less ‘thing’ to focus on! The second pedal is a loop pedal. The piece opens with two lines that we then loop throughout the entire work; plucking of piano strings as well as mallets hitting inside the piano on its beams. Throughout the piece I am faced with the task of triggering these two loops on cue. The third pedal arranged into the flute part was a kick drum (Erika was managing the tambourine kick). At many points throughout the piece, I would be playing both the notated flute part, kick drum, loop pedal, and page turn at the same time! Kinda like driving a car...Gina Izzo Righteous Girls has a very bright future ahead of them, and I look forward to hearing more of their music and music they commission.  Righteous Girls is the future of the flute and piano duo.   -Fluterscooter...

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Noemi Gyori: Album Review

Posted by on Jun 1, 2017 in CD Reviews, Featured, Issues, June 2017, Reviews | 0 comments

Noemi Gyori: Album Review

Glowing Sonorities, the recent album released by flutist Noemi Gyori and pianist Katalin Csillagh, is a feast of Romantic music. This collection was crafted with obvious care and intention. The pieces themselves as well as the order in which they are presented was well thought-out to provide the maximum musical effect to the listener. In Gyori’s capable hands, these works shine, despite the fact that the Schubert and the Franck pieces were not originally written for flute. They seem entirely idiomatic to the flute thanks to fine editions and the performer’s excellent interpretations. The deliberate selection of the “oldest Steinway model available” according to the liner notes also adds to the rich timbre of the ensemble. The liner notes to the album are fascinating and truly well done. Gyori gives context for the flute during the Romantic era and also outlines some of the challenges in performing transcriptions of works originally composed for string instruments. The CD takes us on a tour of the Romantic era; the Schubert begins the collection with a representation of the elegance of the Romantic era, the Reinecke is “a true jewel of the original repertoire for flute and piano duo,” and the Franck exhibits the musical qualities of the late Romantic era. Overall, this is an excellent, high-quality album featuring beautiful playing and clear phrasing. Gyori and Csillagh are successful at keeping the drama of the Romantic era at the center of their interpretations of these three delightful works. To learn more about Noémi Gyori, visit her website at www.noemigyori.com. Glowing Sonorities Hungaroton HCD 32767 Noémi Gyori, flute Katalin Csillagh, piano Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano in A Minor, D. 821 – Franz Schubert Allegro moderato Adagio Allegretto Sonata for Flute and Piano in E Minor, Op. 167 “Undine” – Carl Reinecke Allegro Allegretto vivace Andante tranquillo Allegro molto agitato ed appassionato, quasi Presto Sonata for Violin and Piano in A Major – César Franck Allegretto ben moderato Allegro Recitativo-Fantasia. Ben moderato Allegretto poco mosso   -Tammy Evans...

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Black Cedar: Album Review

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in CD Reviews, Featured, Issues, May 2017, Reviews | 0 comments

Black Cedar: Album Review

Black Cedar, which comprises flute, guitar, and cello, offers a variety of attractive chamber works for this particular instrumentation. Bookended by works commissioned by the trio, the four pieces presented each offer something different. Miscellaneous Music by Durwynne Hsieh (b. 1963) offers some truly beautiful, soaring melodies, especially in the first movement. Nathan Kolosko’s Hungarian Trio features traditional Hungarian melodies and traditional Hungarian dance steps. These modern instruments mimic their Hungarian counterparts. The flute in particular is supposed to mirror the Hungarian shepherd’s flute, which is similar to a renaissance recorder, being end-blown with a fipple mouthpiece. Debussyana, which is a movement from a larger work by Klaus Hinrich Stahmer, was inspired by a poem cycle by Gerhard Vescovi. Audible are samples from Debussy’s L’après-midi d’un faune. Finally, Garrett Shatzer’s Of Emblems closes out the album with quiet introspection. The third movement in particular opens with a moody flute solo, which is quickly joined by guitar. Their entwined duet is eventually joined by cello to complete the trio. Overall, I find the overall timbral combinations to be quite pleasant. The flute sound really blends with the warmth of the guitar and cello. Occasionally the flute color rises above the ensemble as it approaches the upper reaches of its range. While there is limited repertoire for this combination of instruments, it is a repertoire worth developing. Learn more about Black Cedar at www.blackcedar.biz. A Path Less Trod That Other Label Black Cedar Kris Palmer, flute Steven Lin, guitar Nancy Kim, cello Miscellaneous Music (2015) – Durwynne Hsieh (b. 1963) I. Möbius Movement II. Introverted Interlude III. Five Fun Facts Hungarian Trio (2012) – Nathan Kolosko (b. 1975) I. Prelude II. Round Dance III. Ancient Melody IV. Spinning Dance Acht Nachtstücke (1983) – Klaus Hinrich Stahmer (b. 1941) Debussyana Of Emblems (2014) – Garrett Ian Shatzer (b. 1980) I. Andante II. Lento III....

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Sarah Frisof: Album Review

Posted by on Apr 1, 2017 in April 2017, CD Reviews, Featured, Issues, Reviews | 0 comments

Sarah Frisof: Album Review

Sarah Frisof:  “Looking Back, the Flute Music of Joseph Schwantner” Joseph Schwantner has a long history of writing beautiful music for flute, and in her new CD, Sarah Frisof shares several of his works with us. The album includes: “Soaring” (1986), “Looking Back” (written in honor of Samuel Baron) “Black Anemones” (1980) and the first recording of “Taking Charge” written for Walfrid Kujala (2012). Sarah plays Schwanter’s music with technical mastery, excitement and verve. Her pitch is excellent as she navigates the very expressive and difficult challenges with amazing ease! The new work “Taking Charge” is scored for flute/piccolo, percussion and piano. Her expert pianist is the composer/pianist Daniel Pesca and she’s joined by Ji Hye Jung and Lee Vinson on percussion. They are all outstanding musicians and together play this new piece rhythmically and musically, creating the perfect ensemble and atmosphere. I especially love Movement 2, “a voice from afar” a 12 minute long movement with evocative and deeply felt piccolo, playing against non-pitched percussion of cymbals, triangle, steel bowls, gong and tam tam. The hushed quiet movement is in perfect contrast to the other more percussive, driving, jazzy surrounding movements. Schwantner is a wonderful and skilled composer, and if you want to learn more about his flute music, you can’t find a better introduction than this album! Recorded by Centaur in 2014 at the Lied Center, Lawrence, Kansas. Engineer, Colin Mahoney....

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Elsa Nilsson Album Review

Posted by on Mar 1, 2017 in CD Reviews, Featured, Issues, March 2017, Reviews | 0 comments

Elsa Nilsson Album Review

Elsa Nilsson’s newest album, Salt Wind, is a breath of fresh air, amongst a sea of jazz. Each track is uniquely crafted, and diverse from the next one.  Nilsson’s compositions will be heralded by the most discriminating of today’s jazz affectionados.  Yet, each piece is appealing to listeners of all ages and backgrounds.  Nilsson composed each piece with a unique set of influences, and every composition tells a story. Being a native of Sweden, the melodies sound in Salt Wind are inspired by traditional folk music, but with a contemporary jazz twist. From the beginning to the end, Nilsson’s playing is full of color and life. The bass flute sounds buttery, and the C Flute sings through the registers with musicality and emotion. There are nine tracks on the album.  The first track, titled Tiny Bridges, Homemade Islands, is full of joy.  The melody is inspired by her time spent at her family’s chalet in the Alps, and sounds like a sunny morning by a lake that was experienced by Nilsson.  Another favorite of mine is the fourth track, titled Inside Brooklyn Thunder. This track is smokey and slow-paced. The composition was inspired by a cozy evening indoors, during a thunderstorm. I first listened to Inside Brooklyn Thunder while driving in the rain, and it was very complimentary to the ambience created by the weather outside my car.  As a long time fan of heavy metal music from Europe, the fifth track, Hedning exceeded my expectations for “Heavy Metal Flute.”  Even cooler, Nilsson sings in this composition, and is the author of the lyrics.  The word “Hedning” means “Heathen” in Swedish, and the roving bass line enforces these intense emotions. The flute solo is a virtuosic flurry of notes. I spent a lot of time listening to this album in my car, on the way to work. Every time I listen to each track, I discover something new- a thick guitar harmony, a creative drum riff, or contrapuntal bass line. The entire ensemble is in sync, on both a musical and technical level. At least once a day, a melody from this album will get stuck in my head. However, this is a good problem.  I hope that many more flutists and music enthusiasts will add this album to their library, and listen to it often.    -Rachel...

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Barbara Kortmann Inner Lights Album Review

Posted by on Mar 1, 2017 in CD Reviews, Featured, Issues, March 2017, Reviews | 0 comments

Barbara Kortmann Inner Lights Album Review

Barbara Kortmann shares with us in the opening essay in her new CD, Inner Lights: “the inner forces of being alive." She says “each of the works...has been a special ‘inner light’ for me over the past years." These beautiful thoughts inform the deep and sparkling performances on this extraordinary album. If you don’t already know her, Kortmann (b.1985) is a German flutist who has recently won a raft of competitions, and uniquely these competitions aren’t flute competitions but competitions where she competed against all instrumentalists!  She’s won prizes at the International Music Competition Jeunesses Musicales Bucharest, Aeolus Competition for Wind Instruments, and Markische Cultural Conference Competition (which she was the first flutist ever to win) among others. In 2016 she won the Rising Star Award at the International Sir James Galway Flute Festival. They chose well, because Ms. Kortman is an extraordinary player, whose fluid technique serves her musical mastery and unique, beautiful interpretations. Her performance of the Marias, Les Folies d’Espagne is full of interesting surprises that are musically insightful and sent me running to my score to think about! Each work on the album opened up new ways of thinking about the piece. Take a listen to her ideas in Bach’s Musical Offering and the two Vivaldi Concerto’s ‘Il Cardellino’ and ‘La Notte.' Every work is thought through but spontaneous in interpretation as well. Kortmann is accompanied by an expert group of strings including the excellent Hellen Weiss and Kerstin Linder-Dewan on violins and Sabine Erdmann on harpsichord. The chamber music is seamless and the pitch is perfect! The CD is available at Genuin Classics and at www.BarbaraKortmann.de and it is beautifully designed, with a complete booklet and interesting essays by Kortmann and Anna-Barbara Schmidt. The recording and editing are superb with the sound of a full orchestra achieved with a small string section and perfect balance maintained throughout. I highly recommend this CD!...

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Robert Dick The Galilean Moons Album Review

Posted by on Feb 1, 2017 in CD Reviews, Featured, February 2017 | 0 comments

Robert Dick The Galilean Moons Album Review

Robert Dick has recently released his new CD, Galilean Moons. This intriguing groundbreaking album is a result of an extraordinary collaboration between two masters of extending the aural and technical possibilities of their respective instruments. Robert Dick, flute and Ursel Schlicht, piano, both virtuoso’s and visionaries around the combination of new music and improvisation share compositional title on all the works on the CD. Robert plays multiple flutes including the Glissando Headjoint, flute, piccolo, open hole alto flute, bass flute and contrabass flute, all with his usual virtuosity, insight, accuracy, humor and flare!   Schlicht is an excellent player, lyrical and beautiful when it’s called for and expert in prepared piano, percussive and brilliant rhythmically too.  They are a dynamic team.  I particularly liked Schlicht’s ‘A Lingering Scent of Eden for it’s combination of lyrical expressive writing and contrasting jazzy and evocative extended techniques. The piece describes a chapter in Alan Wiseman’s “The World Without Us” that tell us about undisturbed landscapes, never manipulated by humans.  It’s an interesting concept in our urbanized lives.   I also love Dick’s amazing work, “Dark Matter” for contrabass flute and piano.  It’s a truly humorous piece as Robert uses nonsense texts that internet spammers affix to emails to try and elude spam filters.  Dick became fascinated by how the random texts “Sometimes …say really amazing things”.  Dick recites the text and together Schlicht and Robert match the text with their own musical responses.     The other pieces on the CD are, Ursel  Schlict’s  “Tendrils” Robert Dick’s Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat and Life Matter and by both composers, the title score of the CD “The Galilean Moons”, a piece that creates beautiful and complex sound paintings based on the four moons of the planet Jupiter.  I hope you will take the time to listen to the album as it is a wondrous journey into intricate, challenging and beautiful sounds for flute, that expands our understanding of what’s possible for flutes both compositionally and technically....

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