CD Reviews

Jamie Baum: Album Review

Posted by on Jun 5, 2018 in CD Reviews, Featured, Issues, June 2018, Reviews | 2 comments

Jamie Baum: Album Review

Bridges- Jamie Baum Septet+   Jazz flutist, composer and leader Jamie Baum has released her new CD Bridges.  Bridges became the focus of her 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship application (and subsequent award) while Jamie was researching the connections between Jewish music (her earliest influences) and Arabic, Middle Eastern and South Asian music. As Jamie says “this music represents a bridge highlighting the similarities found in diverse religious musical traditions that connects us… Bridges feels more compelling and relevant today then I could have anticipated.”   I’m so excited by the concept and realization of these ideas and Baum really makes a compelling, creative and musical case for these connections.   Her Septet+ features these virtuosic musicians from diverse backgrounds: Amir Saffar, trumpet and voice, Sam Sadigursky, alto sax, bass clarinet, Chris Komer, french horn, Brad Shepik, guitar, John Escreet, piano, Zack Lober, bass, singing bowl, Jeff Hirshfield, drums and special guests, Jamey Haddad, percussion and Navin Chettri, percussion, voice, trumpets. Here are the tracks: From the Well- based on a scale common to Maqam, Jewish and South Asian music. Song Without Words (for S. James Baum) written for the passing of Jamie’s father and based on Kol Nidre which is the ancient melody played at the beginning of Yom Kippur (the Jewish day of atonement). There Are No Words- expressing how there are no words in the face of loss. Honoring Nepal: The Shiva Suite – commissioned by the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art in NYC, and written to highlight and pay tribute to the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Using Shiva the Hindu deity who is the “destroyer of evil and the transformer” as the inspiration for the suite. Part 1 – The Earthquake Part 2 -  Renewal Part 3 – Contemplation Joyful Lament, based on a melody by Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn Mantra, based on Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, sung for healing, rejuvenation and nurturance. Ucross Me- about crossing boundaries. As you read and listen to the track titles you begin to understand the thoughts, story and hope that Baum is telling us through these complex compositions, which combine improvisatory jazz, Hindu, Arabic, Jewish, Classical and Minimalist forms into a beautiful whole! Throughout the album the playing is stellar, the ensemble is perfect and each artist contributes exquisitely to the musical message of the album. Produced by Jamie Baum and Richie Beirach – Lynnjam Music www.JamieBaum.com   --Barbara...

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Alice K. Dade: Album Review

Posted by on Jun 5, 2018 in CD Reviews, Featured, Issues, June 2018, Reviews | 0 comments

Alice K. Dade: Album Review

Alice K. Dade is the Assistant Professor of Flute at the University of Missouri, and is on the Artist Faculty of Flutes by the Sea, MOZAIC Festival and the PRIZM International Chamber Festival.   Living Music / Alice K. Dade This is Alice K. Dade's first solo album, and it is a bold move into contemporary classical chamber music.  The selection of new works is diverse, united by Dade’s precise and animated playing.  Recorded at Skywalker Studios, the nuances of the pieces can be heard as she delicately brings out the pastoral feeling generated through the uplifting sounds of “Air”, String Quartet Version, by Aaron Kernis and “Skipping Stones” by Michael Fine.  Dade’s flute soars elegantly, with impeccable intonation and her liquid, brilliant sound.  She is accompanied by a first-class cast which includes violinists Scott Yoo and Erik Arvinder; violist Maurycy Banaszek, cellist Jonah Kim, and double bassist Susan Cahill. The E Sonata for flute and keyboard in E minor Op. 40 by Noam Elkies, is reminiscent of Bach’s E Minor Sonata for flute and piano.  It begins with a contemplative movement featuring some unexpected high register flourishes, rising and falling as the accompanying piano, with the composer at the keyboard,  he seems to keep the mood in the earthly realm, evocative of the title “Eheu,” or “alas,” possibly as in “Alas, the fleeting years slip by” a quotation from Horace. But you don’t need to know that to feel the sense of urgency communicated by the almost burning interjections by Dade, played with decisive authority.  The second, two-minute nineteen second movement of the sonata,  “Mediation” brings the mood back up for Air for a moment before changing course halfway through via some abrupt “thoughts” that are symbolized by a short, interjections from Dade, then solo piano briefly seeming to tumble back to Earth.  The final movement, “Evoe!” is jazzy and fun, with a piano underlay and playful, dancing flute playing. Dade and Elkies play with expressive grace and power. Jennifer Margaret Barker’s impressive, 'Na Tri Peathraichean’ means 'The Three Sisters... of Glencoe,' in Scottish Gaelic, and each piece is meant to evoke one of the three mountains in the title.  Dade captures perfectly the feeling of wild mountain places,  her runs and escalating lines, performed with precision and passion as if they were waterfalls or running stags.  Pianist, John Novacek, compliments Dade beautifully throughout the work.   The second moment, commences with Dade mirroring a flowing river.  Piano and flute sinuously entwine, providing a vivid landscape of colors and textures.  The third movement begins with the majestic introduction by Novacek.  Dade and Novacek are both regal and sensitive, beautifully capturing Baker’s richly evocative music. Dan Coleman’s “Pavanes and Symmetries,” was arranged for flute and piano by Benjamin Loeb.  This piece allows Dade and Novacek to weave a their innate sensibilities with warm lyricism,  and to showcase their immaculate virtuosity. In all, this is a great collection of diverse pieces united by Alice K. Dade’s confident performances.  She presents an splendid cornucopia sampling of American composers, and is accompanied by a deluxe  roster of impressive musicians. --Viviana Guzman...

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Amy Porter: Album Review

Posted by on Jun 5, 2018 in CD Reviews, Featured, Issues, June 2018, Reviews | 0 comments

Amy Porter: Album Review

Michael Daugherty / Trail of Tears featuring Amy Porter (NAXOS) This ambitious album featuring the works of Michael Daugherty with flutist, Amy Porter, percussionist, Dame Evelyn Glennie and tuba player, Carol Jantsch, with the Albany Symphony and conducted by David Alan Miller, is said to be meant to explore “the relationships between machines, humanity and nature.” The album starts off with Amy Porter using her signature velvet sound, on the first track, “Trail of Tears.” Porter’s flute does seem to cry mournfully at certain points in the first movement, “where the wind blew free,” in defiance or defeat in contrast to the dramatic thundering of percussion by the symphony, but also on occasion to float or tiptoe among the other instruments as if seeking a way out, appropriate to the title, and joining in triumph with them before striking out again alone.  Interludes of simple, soothing solo flute, played with a sultry tone, give way to more urgent and insistent passages, then alternating with bursts of doom-sounding from the horns and strings; the flute seeming to join with the symphony only to fall back to opposition.  Porter wails and soars with her impeccable sonority and brilliance. The second movement of the piece, “incantation,” is given a spiritual and emotional life evocative of a Native American incantation, at times sorrowful or mysterious, at times joyous. Porter creates these images deftly with her evocative playing and exquisite sound. The final movement, “sun dance” features rapid-fire playing from Porter matched to the racing tempo, and again, veers off with the piece in different emotional directions, slowing down only to come roaring back full speed.  Amy Porter’s outstanding musicianship weaves a luminous trail of power, magnificence and flair. Porter delivers a commanding showcase of her talents in bringing "Trail of Fears" to life.  As to the works for tuba and percussion, we leave you to explore them as a great bonus when you check out this breathtaking album. --Viviana Guzman...

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Catherine Ramirez: Album Review

Posted by on May 2, 2018 in CD Reviews, Featured, Issues, May 2018, Reviews | 0 comments

Catherine Ramirez: Album Review

Catherine Ramirez - Shelter from the Storm, Albany Records TROY1701 Catherine Ramirez, currently artist-in-residence at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, presents this album “as a bridge toward empathy, compassion, and even understanding” for negative feelings of fear or frustration. She has assembled an album of solo flute works from a variety of stylistic eras that tie into her theme of artists working through feelings of anguish, sadness, burden, and frustration. The fact that each of these works is for solo flute allows Ramirez to fully showcase her lovely sound. Her highly-polished technique serves her well and results in musically convincing interpretations. My favorite track on this album is the transcription by Kazuo Tokito of the Chaconne from J.S. Bach’s Violin Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004. Ramirez’s interpretation is beautiful, wellpaced, and thoughtful. Ramirez writes, “Believed to have been written after the death of his wife Maria Barbara, Bach seems to have worked through his grief in the writing of the Chaconne. In my interpretation … the music traverses the entire range of emotions and mental states:  sadness, tenderness, questioning, forced optimism.” This range is clearly presented in Ramirez’s convincing performance; it is a strong ending to an album full of well-presented, sensitively-performed works. Air - Toru Takemitsu Sonata “Appassionata” in F-Sharp Minor for Flute Alone, Op. 140 - Sigfried Karg-Elert Cinq Incantations for Solo Flute - André Jolivet Pour acceuillir les négociateurs, et que l’entrevue soit pacifique Pour que l’enfant qui va naître soit un fils Pour que la moisson soit riche qui naîtra des sillons que le laboureur trace Pour une communion sereine de l’être avec le monde Aux funérailles du chef, pour obtenir la protection de son âme Violin Partita in D Minor, BWV 1004 - J.S. Bach, trans. Kazuo Tokito --Tammy Evans...

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Anne-Katherine Heinzmann: Album Review

Posted by on Apr 2, 2018 in April 2018, CD Reviews, Featured, Issues, Reviews | 0 comments

Anne-Katherine Heinzmann: Album Review

Degenerate Flute Music Rediscovered Anne-Katherine Heinzmann, Flute and Thomas Hoppe, Piano A few years ago Anne-Katherine Heinzmann released a CD of “Suppressed Music” – music by composers who were persecuted and/or murdered by the National Socialists (Nazi’s) because of their religion or family origin, who as Jews, Heinzmann said “contributed decisively to the sophistication and welfare of Europe.” Although none of these composers were French, their styles were highly influenced by French Modernism, jazz and neo classicism of various types. Heinzmann is a brilliant flutist, performing and teaching throughout the world. She is professor of flute at the University of Music, Nuremberg, leads numerous master classes, and has performed with leading chamber musicians and soloists internationally, including Leonard Hokanson, Miriam Fried, with the BBC Proms, at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, and as Deputy Solo Flutist at the Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra. Her playing is exquisite and she performs each work on the CD with perfect understanding, style, gorgeous tone, and with beautiful, musical coordination with her excellent pianist Thomas Hoppe. Included on the CD are the Erwin Schulhoff Sonata, Leo Smit Sonata, Hans Gal Drei Intermezzi, Gunter Raphael Sonata, and Alexandre Tansman Sonatine.  All of these works are a welcome addition to the flute repertoire, and I was glad to hear the Tansman, Gal, and Raphael for the first time. Tansman, Raphael and Gal all survived the war in exile, while we sadly lost Schulhoff and Smit. All the works reflect a tonal 20th century style and are each engaging and well crafted. Of the pieces I didn’t know beforehand (and you may not know either), I love the Tansman for its cheerfulness and the Raphael for its structural and harmonic complexity. These are wonderful pieces to add to our repertoire, and they benefited from the virtuosity and insight of Anne-Katherine’s playing! The CD is available on Audite and was nominated for the “Preis der Deursche Schallplattenkritik.” www.AnneKatherineHeinzmann   --Barbara...

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Jocelyn Aubrun: Album Review

Posted by on Feb 1, 2018 in CD Reviews, Featured, February 2018, Issues, Reviews | 0 comments

Jocelyn Aubrun: Album Review

1943 Works for Flute and Piano, Jocelyn Aubrun flute, and Aline Piboule piano. While WWII was raging, people were fighting and scattering throughout the world, composers were still writing beautiful works for flute and piano. This album features works by five composers, two major repertoire pieces, and three lesser known works all written in 1943. They are exquisitely played by Jocelyn Aubrun and his excellent partner Aline Piboule. Aubrun has been principal flutist with the Orchestre National de Lyon since 2006 and has had many concerto and chamber music performances worldwide. He plays with a beautiful, focused tone, outstanding accuracy, perfect articulation, and a clear love of the music he is performing. Aubrun is a lovely player, musical, and a perfect accompanist. Even the Piboule is an accomplished soloist herself. They are a unified team, perfectly matched in style and interpretation. The major repertoire works on the album are the Prokofiev Sonata and the Dutilleux Sonatine, and the lesser known works are Sonata da Camera by Marius Flothuis (1914-2001), Sonatine by Claude Arrieu (1903-1990), and Sonata by Leo Smit (1900-1943). All three of these pieces would make an excellent addition to our standard repertoire; they are idiomatic and mostly reflect the influence of 20th century French style, whether Milhaud and Honegger, or in early genre of electroacoustic music with Musique Concrete. I especially enjoyed the Sonata by Leo Smit, whose life was cut short when he died at Sobibor Camp in 1943 (shortly after finishing this Sonata). Give a listen to this well curated and very thought- provoking album. Available on Artalinna Label www.jocelynaubrun.fr --Barbara...

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Molly Barth: Album Review

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

Molly Barth: Album Review

  This album includes seven chamber works involving flute written between the years 1984 and 2011 by David Lang, co-founder of Bang on a Can and winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. Molly Barth, Associate Professor of Flute at University of Oregon and founding member of eighth blackbird, is the consistent performer throughout all works on this album. Thorn (1993), which features solo flute performed expertly by Molly Barth, features her hugely resonant sound. The extreme register changes are expertly managed and woven into a constantly moving line. It is four delightful minutes of extraordinary control. Lend/Lease (2008) includes Barth on piccolo and introduces woodblocks. The percussion adds a depth to the piccolo sound and also serves to emphasize certain moments of articulation. Short Fall (2000) is a somewhat larger chamber ensemble, including piccolo, violin, cello, and piano. The combination creates a rich texture of complementary sounds. It is balanced so no line emerges as primary, and the whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts. Zachariah Galatis joins Barth on piccolo for the next work, Involuntary (2011). It is an energetic combination of piccolos, trumpets, and crisp forward momentum provided by snare drum. Vent (1990) features a quickly moving piano line with longer flute gestures over the top; the flute part later switches to the faster motion. The momentum slows towards the end of the piece and then speeds up again, leading to an abrupt end. Driving lines are passed back and forth between the combination of piano, flute, and pizzicato cello in Burn Notice (1988). Contrasting timbres are at work again in the final work on the album, Frag (1984). Short fragments alternate between flute, oboe, and pizzicato cello. Overall, this is a well-executed album of flute and piccolo playing of the absolute highest quality. It receives my strongest recommendation. -Tammy Evans...

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Beta Quartet: Album Review

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

Beta Quartet: Album Review

The award winning Beta Flute Quartet has released their first album! The quartet, newly formed in 2016, includes flutists Brittany Trotter, Eftihia Victoria Arkoudis, Tatiana Cassetta, and Alyssa Schwartz. They’ve won a number of prizes in their short time together including First Prize at the West Virginia Music Teachers National Association Chamber Music Competition, First Prize at the Flute Society of Kentucky Quartet Competition and they were semi-finalists in the 2017 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. Great accomplishments in their first year!! They’ve included some terrific quartet music in this album featuring composers Anze Rozman, Jennifer Higdon, Mark Fromm, Mike Mower, and Derek Charke. I enjoyed all the pieces – Rozman’s Aqua Ventus, which in the Aqua movement evokes running water beautifully; Higdon's Steeley Pause, a virtuosic, intensely difficult and exciting piece;  Mower's Dances of the Lake, a longer 3 movement piece which explores the entire range of the flute in colorful ways; Fictions, by Mike Mower, with four descriptive works- Whirlpool, Drought, Home Side and Flat Out; and Derek Charke’s meditative Raga Sept. The quartet plays each piece with dedication and finesse, deeply finding the essence of each piece in their interpretations. Each player is an accomplished, lovely player with great sound and solid technique, and together they create a unique, virtuosic album of quartets. Give it a listen!! --Barbara...

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Emi Ferguson: Amour Cruel Album Review

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

Emi Ferguson: Amour Cruel Album Review

Emi Ferguson’s new album is a genre breaking, spectacular work of art! Emi’s premise is, “What if Louis XIV were living today and curated his court composers with musicians like Beyonce, Lana Del Rey or Adele?” In answer to that question, she used 17th century French songs as inspiration and fused old instruments with modern styles and production to create the truly original set of songs on the album. You may be wondering – songs?—flute album? – what’s she talking about?! Not only does Emi play flute(s) including modern and baroque flutes, she is also the stellar vocalist on the album. Yes, she’s a beautiful singer as well, and she wrote and arranged all the music too.   And if you’re wondering what else she does beautifully then check out the video of the opening track and title song, Amour Cruel, and marvel at the beautiful red dress that Emi created and designed! A very accomplished flutist, Emi won First Prize in the NFA’s Young Artist Competition, the NY Flute Club Young Artist Competition, the Mid Atlantic Flute Competition, and the Juilliard Concerto Competition. She is passionate about “new” and “old” music and has performed worldwide on both modern and baroque flutes in Switzerland, New York, and France and at major festivals like Marlboro, Lucerne, and Lake Champlain. We did a video interview of Emi in which she talks about the album, so I’ll spend some time on the songs themselves. As the title song implies, the bilingual tracks are all tales of love gone bad and they pack an emotional punch! The beauty of her flute playing and her expressive and intensely felt singing draw you into to the world of love and loss that are both enhanced by being combined. Track 10, Enfin la beaute que j’adore, for example, brings us back to the Renaissance in style with a slight inflection of folk music as well. The first title track, Amour Cruel, is a mostly vocal work in which Emi sings with deep emotional feeling and vocal inflection, accompanied by flute and a virtuoso team of musicians. In fact, each of her musicians is a virtuoso in their own right and are comfortable in both contemporary and classical styles. The outstanding musicians are Jordan Dodson/guitars, Paul Holmes Morton/theorbo, lute, and guitars, Doug Balliett/basses and viola da gamba and Sam Budish/percussion. On all the selections, Emi’s flute playing is beautiful, refined, expressive and full of sparkle, but to me this all goes without saying as this album is one of the most original and interesting I’ve ever heard. I hope it goes to the top of the pop charts as it is already has on both the classical crossover and classical charts as it has the power to open minds and hearts to classical music in a new way. www.amourcruel.com --Barbara...

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Jean-Louis Beaumadier: Album Review

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

Jean-Louis Beaumadier: Album Review

If you wake up in a sad mood, I suggest you put on Jean-Louis Beaumadier’s new CD, Sweet Dream,a joyous album which as Jean Louis says, “demonstrates the lighter side of the piccolo’s character.” The album is part of Beaumadier’s ongoing piccolo repertoire project, and Sweet Dreams is World Piccolo, volume 3. The collection includes works by these composers from throughout the world: Camarguo Guarnieri, Mike Mower, Jean Michel Damase, Gordon Jacob, Veronique Poltz, Flint Juventino Beppe, William Bardwell, Eugene Magalif, Raymond Gulot, and Malik Mezzadri. Beaumadier is a brilliant player, who has brought piccolo playing to a new level of attention and artistry through his many recordings and commissioning of new work. He plays with a beautiful sound, perfect pitch and crystal clear rhythm, always with a joyous infectious energy!! He has some wonderful guest players on the CD including Carla Rees and Gergely Itzes on Alto flute, Magik Malik on flute/ voice, Vincent Beer Demander on Mandoline, Peter Verhoyen on piccolo, Mathier Schaefer on xylophone and Jordi Torrent on piano. They are all expert players who add to the virtuosity of the album. For example, I loved Peter Verhoyen in the humorous piccolo duet with piano by Eugene Magalif and Jordi Torrent’s incredible ensemble playing throughout the album. The final work on the album is Malik Mezzadri’s, Naomi which shows a different side to the piccolo, utilizing flute and flute singing, done expertly by Magik Malik. It’s an abstract atonal work that reminds us that the piccolo had great versatility and that Beaumadier is a master of it all!! You can purchase the album on his website. --Barbara...

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