CD Reviews

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...

read more

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...

read more

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...

read more

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...

read more

Suzanne Teng: Album Review

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

Suzanne Teng: Album Review

Right now, we all need more meditation, healing, and peace, and Suzanne Teng/Mystic Journey's new album, "Kingdom of Mountains," provides music that evokes all of those elements.   I have always been a fan of Teng's music, as she is a master of countless world flutes, and "Kingdom of Mountains" is an excellent followup to her last album, "Mystic Journey."  Mystic Journey is now the name of the collective of musicians including Teng, her husband and co-writer, Gilbert Levy (world strings, percussions, synths), Dann M. Torres (guitar, oud, electric sitar), and Jon Ossman (bass and dilruba). "Kingdom of Mountains" is a blend of all styles of world music and flutes, and the ambient tracks behind the world instruments give it a feeling of peacefulness and thought.  This album has more rhythms, grooves, and instruments than her previous, which give the music more textures and layers.  Standout tracks are "Kingdom of Mountains," a 7 minute track, as I like the longer length in tracks, especially in meditation music.  "Delicate Rainbow Flower" is pure beauty, and the instruments blend together harmoniously.  When I close my eyes and listen to "Yunnan," I get transported to China.  Much of Teng's music can take you to different worlds if you just clear your thoughts and listen.  ...

read more

Carlos Escribá Cano: Album Review

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

Carlos Escribá Cano: Album Review

Flutist, composer, arranger, and music producer, Carlos Cano Escribá plays with a grenadilla wooden flute from Verne Q. Powell Flutes.  Born in Havana in 1971, he completed his studies at the National School of Music. Mr. Escribá is a former member of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, with which he performed on the most important stages of Spain.  He continuously collaborates with orchestras such as the Symphony Orchestra of Madrid and the Symphonic Orchestra of the Gran Teatro del Liceo in Barcelona. His last work, Canciones y Palabras, along with pianist Hernán Milla and Cuban poet Aldo J. Méndez, was nominated for a Latin Grammy as best album for children.  Escribá is currently flute professor at the Marcos Redondo Professional Music Conservatory in Ciudad Real, Spain. Por La Rivera de Paquito, the new album from flutist Carlos Escribá Cano and pianist Hernán Milla, is a delightful collection of Paquito De Rivera's iconic Cuban music, which is thoughtfully arranged by Cano and Milla for flute, piano, and a variety of accompanying instruments.  When you think of De Rivera's sound, flute does not generally come to mind, as his music was primarily played and written for clarinet and saxophone.  Cano's interpretation and playing was authentic, honest, and virtuosic, showcasing his talents as a flutist, orchestrator, and arranger.  The legendary De Rivera is featured on the opening and closing tracks of the album, adding an even extra layer of counterpoint and harmony. The album begins with Con Chucho Corriente Abajo (Variations on Chucho Valdes' Mambo Influenciado).  This piece is a fun mambo and fugue; parts of it are reminiscent of Claude Bolling's Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano, altering between jazzy and classical.  Next is Aires Tropicales, in four short movements (Contradanza, Habanera, Vals Venezolano, Afro).  This relatively unknown wind quintet by Rivera, arranged for flute and piano, was played with a freshness and crispness, accentuating the solid collaboration between Cano and Milla. Cano brings out the alto flute in the Dizzy Gillespie standard, A Night in Tunisia, and adds doublebass and percussion to another excellent arrangement.  His alto flute tone is rich and smooth, and his solos soar with virtuosity through the piece.  As Cano is mostly a classical and orchestral player, I was quite impressed to hear his jazz chops which rival those of most jazz flutists.  De Rivera's The Cape Cod Files, originally for clarinet and piano, start with the first movement (Lecuonerías) as a long cadenza of solo flute, the second (Benny @100) adding piano, third (Bandoneón) adding the bandoneón accordian as a tribute to Astor Piazzola with a lovely improvised bandoneón part from Claudio Constantini, and ending with Chiquita Blues, which is a jaunty and rhythmic finale to the piece.  The last 3 short pieces on the album (La Fleur de Cayenne, Invitacion al Danzon, Brussels in the Rain) round out this exciting album of music that is rarely played and heard by flutists, and Carlos Cano Escribá/Hernán Milla bring their outstanding teamwork and knowledge of De Rivera's music and style into every piece.  Brussels in the Rain created a whimsical Parisian atmopshere and was a stand out track on the album.   Por La Rivera de Paquito, which means "for the river of Paquito," is an album that flows like a river from song to song.  ...

read more

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...

read more

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...

read more

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...

read more

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....

read more