CD Reviews

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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Arnone and McTeer REACT Album Review

Posted by on Jan 2, 2017 in CD Reviews, Featured, January 2017 | 0 comments

Arnone and McTeer REACT Album Review

Flutist Francesca Arnone and violinist Mikylah McTeer teamed up to release an innovative and dynamic recording entitled REACT. McTeer and Arnone perform diverse electroacoustic pieces on their first collaborative album REACT, released on Ravello Records. The works on this album successfully demonstrate the range of potential for electroacoustic music to facilitate both experimental and traditional compositional ideas.The featured composers explore new ways of creating and organizing sound, and--as performed with either computer or other interactive electronics--the violin and flute help construct unique sonic landscapes.     The Ravello catalogue overview of this album describes the highlights as such: Interact and React, composed by Ben Johansen for flute, violin and interactive computer, is unique for its incorporation of non-instrumental sounds (such as mouth noises, whistling, stomping, snapping, and more) into its musical landscape, and has three basic parts: two deeply abstract outer sections, with an intervening period of fierce counterpoint between the flute and violin. Margaret Schedel’s Partita, Perihelion for violin and interactive computer most clearly blends traditional ideas with electroacoustic ones, as the electronics grow out of the solo violin part. The titles of its three movements refer to Baroque dance suite forms, and also paraphrase, if not outright quote, Bach’s solo violin partitas. Luminosity, David Taddie’s flute and electroacoustic piece, is one of the more traditional experimental works on the album, using synthesized sounds that can be traced back to electronic music from the 1960s and 70s. The album commences with Arnone’s mastery of several flutes including C flute, and alto flute in Ben Johansen’s Interact. McTeer and Arnone intertwine melodies that are in turn heard “on tape.” The piece is beautifully executed, instantly beckoning the listener to dive further. This striking duo presents a breathtaking look into flute, violin, and electronics repertoire. Arnone’s luxurious sounds combined with McTeer’s dazzling artistry make for a feast for the senses. On Luminosity by David Taddie, Arnone begins by showcasing her Alto Flute. Her elegant and commanding flute follows with souring mellifluous melodies. With Arnone’s enchanting flute at the helm, this piece transports you into other realms. Perihelion by Margaret Schedel showcases Mikylah McTeer’s polished and sonorous violin. This haunting work is expertly woven with McTeer’s magnificent sounds.     Vox Clamantis by Russell Pinkston is beautifully presented by McTeer and Arnone with resounding lyricism. The balance between the three voices is bewitching. The listener is lured in by the engaging and impeccable sounds of Arnone and McTeer that create an impressive cauldron of enchantments. REACT is a delightful look into innovative, contemporary repertoire for flute, violin, and electronics. A true feast for the senses!   --Viviana Guzman...

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Jan Vinci American FluteScape Album Review

Posted by on Jan 2, 2017 in CD Reviews, Featured, January 2017 | 0 comments

Jan Vinci American FluteScape Album Review

As the title suggests Jan Vinci’s new CD is a combination of classic 20th century flute compositions as well as several premieres and 21st century works.  This beautiful album introduces us to two new pieces by Vinci’s husband Jazz saxophonist and composer Mark Vinci (Crow’s Nest and TINGsha Bom t-Bom t-Bom) as well as compositions by Jennifer Higdon (Flute Poetic), Katherine Hoover (Medieval Suite), Acht Stucke by Paul Hindemith, and the Griffes Poem. She writes in her opening notes “Just as a textilist weaves threads into a tapestry, a composer crafts a collage if timbres, rhythms and silence into a soundscape.”  Vinci reflects this beautifully in this multi-faceted album.  Each piece, as she writes in her very well written notes each piece tells a story, and Vinci tells the stories with beautiful, colorful sound, perfect pitch and deep interpretation.  You are aware of how much thought she’s given to each piece on the album and her deep love of presenting this music.  American FluteScape opens with a newly commissioned work by the brilliant composer Jennifer Higdon called Flute Poetic.  Vinci has known Higdon since she gave her flute lessons in their native Tennessee!  Higdon composed an original first movement and then arranged two movements from her String Poetic for violin and piano.  The result is a terrific new flute sonata by this Pulitzer Prize winning composer.     I loved the new works by Mark Vinci, especially the newest one TINGsha Bom t-Bom t-Bom (cool title) which is for flute and orchestra.  The New York Dream Orchestra made up of top NYC players is expertly conducted by the composer. Mark combines both improvisation and classical structure in both of his pieces, giving the flutist a chance to shine in her own improvisations as well as to show her virtuosity in a range of technical challenges. Jan is accompanied by the stellar pianist Rieko Uchida, herself a noted chamber musician and soloist.  Their ensemble and interpretations blend perfectly in seamless playing, check out how they and blend lines and trills in Medieval Suite. Congratulations Jan on a wonderful new album! You can purchase the CD at: www.Albanyrecords.com or at www.JanVinci.com. The CD was produced, engineered and mastered by Adam Abeshouse at Pelham Studio, Pelham NY and at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, NYC. --Barbara Siesel...

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Paul Lustig Dunkel Alive in the Studio Album Review

Posted by on Dec 1, 2016 in CD Reviews, December 2016, Featured | 0 comments

Paul Lustig Dunkel Alive in the Studio Album Review

Paul Lustig Dunkel has a new CD!  Dunkel, well known here in NYC is currently the Principal Flutist of the New York City Ballet and the Music Director Emeritus of the Westchester Philharmonic. His new CD introduces us to many new works for flute in various configurations. It’s a deeply felt and beautifully played album with an interesting concept, as well. In these days of hyper mixed and edited albums, Dunkel takes a cue from the singer/songwriter world and presents us with a live recording. No mixing, editing (or minimal), just the sound of the instruments well recorded with great mics in a studio. It’s great to experience the music as one would at a live concert, hearing Paul’s sound very clearly as well as the accompanying instruments – well balanced, but not adjusted. A reality experience!!! The CD presents four large works, starting with Dunkel’s arrangement of the Shostakovich Cello Sonata in D minor, transcribed for flute, which he’s arranged with surprisingly excellent results. Now we have a beautiful flute piece by Shostakovich to add to our repertoire possibilities.  The second work on the album is by Dunkel himself – a flute quartet that I’m sure will amuse all the flutists out there! It’s based on hearing excellent flutists practice at William Kincaid’s flute camp, and it’s a fascinating and funny overlay of all of our favorite excerpts and exercises. Here are the movement titles: La cage des oiseaux, In memorium: J.A. (you’ll recognize these), La nuit des faunes, and Taffanel et Chloe. I couldn’t stop laughing during this piece and I challenge you to list all the pieces included in this terrific quartet.  Joining Dunkel in the quartet are three wonderful players- Laura Conwesser alto flute, Rie Schmidt flute and Tanya Witek flute and piccolo.     Drummer Tony Moreno’s work, Episodes for Flute and Percussion is a virtuosic, exciting piece for flute and drums, utilizing many complex polyrhythms for both the drums and flute. The first movement is based mathematically on the Fibonacci sequence which yields precise harmony, rhythmic displacements, and pitch/class sets. The second movement is virtuosic for the drums and is a study in meter combinations of seven. The final piece on the album, for flute and piano is Tamar Muskal’s Sof and Mechanofin, Mechanofin-combining the words mechanical and end and the word Sof - end in Hebrew  takes us on a mechanically repeating journey ending in beauty and hope. Dunkel is accompanied by the extraordinary pianist Peter Basquin, who plays with virtuosic technique and exquisite subtlety, matching the flute in every way. Paul Dunkel is a terrific and deep player with beautiful sound, color and imagination, who plays so well that he can record a CD live and have it sound...

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Patricia Surman The American Album Review

Posted by on Dec 1, 2016 in CD Reviews, December 2016, Featured | 0 comments

Patricia Surman The American Album Review

The American Album Centaur CRC 3525 Patricia Surman, flute Kostas Chardas, piano Dr. Patricia Surman, who has recently joined the faculty of Metropolitan State University of Denver, has released a stunning album of American works on Centaur Records. The composers represented on this album span the entire 20th century into the 21st century. I especially appreciated the inclusion of pieces from the standard repertoire as well as some new gems. The works represented on the album include: Sonata (Three Lakes) – Daniel Dorff   I. Lake Wallenpaupack   II. Kezar Lake   III. Salmon Lake Black Anemones – Joseph Schwantner Three American Pieces for Flute and Piano – Lukas Foss   I. Early Song   II. Dedication   III. Composer’s Holiday Antiques of a Mechanical Nature – Chapman Welch Duo for Flute and Piano – Aaron Copland   I. Flowing   II. Poetic, somewhat mournful   III. Lively, with bounce   On the first hearing, Surman’s fantastic tone is immediately evident. It is robust, substantial, and beautiful. She shows the listener a variety of tone colors throughout the various works. Her technique is masterful, and her articulation is crystal clear and communicative. The collaboration between Surman and pianist Kostas Chardas is solid. Overall, this is an outstanding album and highly recommended.  --Tammy Evans...

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Sebastian Jacot Premiere Album Review

Posted by on Nov 1, 2016 in CD Reviews, Featured, November 2016 | 0 comments

Sebastian Jacot Premiere Album Review

Sebastian Jacot received first prize at the 2014 Carl Nielsen International Flute Competition as well as fist prize at the Kobe International Competition in 2013. He presently plays principal flute with the Gewandhaus Orchestra.  He’s a truly accomplished player and only 29 years old!  His new album Premiere! is a collection of some of our favorite flute concertos: Reinecke, Ibert, and Nielsen played with the excellent Odense Symphony Orchestra, David Bjorkman conductor. It’s a beautiful CD – Jacot is that rare combination flutist who plays with copious virtuosity and with a tender, natural musicality that can make you cry. All of the performances on the album were recorded live as part of the 2014 Carl Nielsen International Flute Competition. My only consideration is the engineering of the CD- the flute levels are very soft. Even in the very forte sections of the Nielsen Concerto, the flute never reached beyond mezzo forte in volume. I would have liked to be awash in Jacot’s lovely sound and I never had that opportunity throughout the album. --Barbara Siesel...

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Paula Robison Caprice Album Review

Posted by on Nov 1, 2016 in CD Reviews, Featured, November 2016 | 0 comments

Paula Robison Caprice Album Review

Paula Robison's latest CD, Caprice, is a brilliant mix new and standard works for flute and piano.  The album is called "Caprice" in honor of Thierry Lancino's sublime Cinq Caprices which "are adapted for flute and piano especially for this recording" as stated in the liner notes.  In addition, the album features the works of Claude Debussy, Olivier Messiaen,  and Pierre Boulez.  The songs by Claude Debussy were transcribed for flute and piano by Paula Robison.  The pianist is the brilliant Finnish pianist Paavali Jumppanen. The album commences with the quintessential flute work, Afternoon of a Faun by Claude Debussy, arranged for flute and piano by Paula Robison and Paavali Jumppanen.  Robison's ethereal sound provides a graceful beginning to the album.  Jumppanen's exquisite playing provides the perfect collaborator for the album. Pierre Boulez' Sonatine is next on the album.  The Robison-Jumppanen Duo execute this enigmatic work with earnest passion and mystery. In the Quatre Melodies by Claude Debussy we hear the Duo's lyrical warmth and romantic zest.  Robinson's tone is rich with fervor and utmost elegance.  Jumppanen's sultry sound and Robison's poetic musicality provide superb performance of these voluptuous works.     Thierry Lancino's Cinq Caprices are exquisitely both fragile and powerful.  Robison and Jumppanen cast an unearthly sheen on these provocative and delightful works. Olivier Messiaen's Le Merle Noir is splendidly performed by the Robison-Jumppanen Duo.  Robison's Le Merle Noir is thrilling.  From the first notes, Robison and Jumppanen weave an especially ravishing landscape, concocting an enchanting spell. Paula Robison's recording of Claude Debussy's Syrinx and divinely satisfying.  In this particular track, the flute is mic-ed differently than the rest of the album, leaving us with a bewitching interpretation of this iconic work for flute.  Robison makes the flute resonate with a captivating luster, painting Syrinx as both sensual and whimsical. In Claude Debussy's Le vent dans la plaine from Preludes Book 1, Jumppanen's expert technique performs with majesty and power. The final piece on the album, La Flute de Pan by Claude Debussy, the Robison-Jumppanen Duo end the CD with incredible tasteful beauty. Caprice by Paula Robison and Paavali Jumppanen, is an album that is sure to become a favorite in every flute lover's collection. --Viviana Guzman, The Flute View...

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