CD Reviews

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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Sarah Jane Hargis Saving the Queen Album Review

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

Sarah Jane Hargis Saving the Queen Album Review

Sarah Jane Hargis has always interested me as a flutist ever since I saw her perform with pedals at the Las Vegas NFA Convention and at this past year’s NFA where she performed original compositions, both solo and with flutist Melissa Keeling, so I was very excited when I received her newest album Saving the Queen. The album cover first caught my eye, where the “Rockstar Flutist” is wearing a gas mask and pearls.    The gas mask represents Hargis’ struggle with becoming severely ill from black mold, while having to abandon all possessions as well as her home, and start over again. Almost all the music on this album was written during that time. Hargis explains: “the name of the album is Saving the Queen because it was really my music that I think saved me and what had me pull through these dark times in my life.” The album is ethereal and mystical upon first listen. With the first two tracks being arrangements of familiar pieces Syrinx and "Sarabande" from Bach’s Partita, I wanted to listen a few times to hear all the nuances of each pedal, each overtone, each frequency, and processed sound. I was happy to hear something different every time! "Cyan Motion" is an original track that I loved hearing live at NFA, but with the excellent mixing of this album, I could hear many more electronics. In this uptempo piece, she multi-tracks and loops, creating beautiful and intricate harmonies and sounds.      The fourth track, "Bellow," has the listener entering an enchanted forest. The pitch bends and emptiness where the wind is the only sound conjures up many images of trees dancing, wind blowing, and nature.  At points, Hargis’ flute sounds like an echoing electric guitar. "Indigo Waters" is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Hargis’ Kentucky background shines through in this track about the coal miners of her state. The original piece starts off sparse and then leads into a dance. Hargis does pitch bends like a champion, and her use of pedals accentuate them even more. The sixth track, "Meditation," is another favorite. This track is something I’d love to hear in a yoga class or an ayahuasca ceremony. The steady electronic drone is haunting and the flute line is evocative. The flute in this piece is not as processed as the former pieces, but it doesn’t need to be. The beautiful, simple lines are enough to put you in a state of bliss. The only bad thing about this piece is that it ends so soon! (I, personally, could listen to this type of music for hours) The last segment of Saving the Queen starts with the lively "Pistachio." Its jaunty and syncopated rhythms put you back into a groove after waking from the "Meditation." Hargis’ cover of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is hopeful and nostalgic, and I think of the story behind the album when listening to this poignant track of pure solo flute. This track has the least processing so it offers the chance to listen to Hargis’ beautiful sound. "Meditation II" finishes the album by putting the listener in one last trance like state, which in my opinion, is a great way to finish an album. Saving the Queen is very well mixed, arranged, and played, and the Rockstar Flutist is a composer/flutist to look out for! --Fluterscooter...

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Ned McGowan The Art of the Contrabass Flute Album Review

Posted by on Oct 3, 2016 in CD Reviews, Featured, October 2016 | 0 comments

Ned McGowan The Art of the Contrabass Flute Album Review

Composer and flutist Ned McGowan has a new CD for contrabass flute!! It’s an amazing album of original, virtuosic works by this talented and noted composer. Many of you may have heard some of his music this August at the most recent NFA conference, so you know what I mean.  McGowan is a virtuoso of the contrabass flute having written the first concerto for contrabass flute and orchestra, premiered with the American Composer’s Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 2008 (how did I miss this concert????). Each piece on this album conveys McGowan’s interest in rhythmic complexity, and the intersection of European art music, Indian Carnatic music, popular forms, and the avant garde. He employs extended techniques to exceptionally expand the range of the contrabass, and the expert layering of multiple tracks creates a unique sound world.  In Earthly Chants I, McGowan begins with a wall of sound reminiscent of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring– the image that comes to mind is primordial ooze with the sound of the flute rising from the harmonic ground. Benson Town for contrabass flute and Mridangam (an ancient percussion instrument from India used in Carnatic music) has a rock influenced rhythm with the flute and drum in an elaborate rhythmic dance. Winter's Breath for contrabass flute and piano is a more traditional piece with lovely, singing melodic lines. In Earthly Chants II, I checked to see if my floor was vibrating! Deep sounds well up, and I could hear some echoes (homage) to Varese’s Density 21.5.     Wurelguik for flute and electronics has beautifully layered sounds and repeated patterns which eventually speed up into a virtuosic display of articulation with electronic overlays and sound expansion.  I appreciated McGowan’s sparing and logical use of electronic sounds. Earthly Chants III, subtitled “Don’t Forget Everyday, Your Funky Prayers to Say,” brings us back to the opening sounds, expanding to deep sea and whale sounds and eventually into a swinging, joyous dancing rhythm. I enjoyed this album, from the virtuosity and beautiful sounds to the humor and complexity, it makes me want to play the contrabass flute! --Barbara Siesel...

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Elisabeth Möst Accento Austria Album Review

Posted by on Oct 3, 2016 in CD Reviews, Featured, October 2016 | 0 comments

Elisabeth Möst Accento Austria Album Review

Accento Austria (Gramola 99100) Elisabeth Möst, flute, Maroje Brčić, guitar   Flutist Elisabeth Möst and guitarist Maroje Brčić have presented a lovely collection of works that span nineteenth- and twentieth-century Austria. While the majority of the works on this album were written in the twentieth-century, two were written by composers whose lives span the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries.   Five Miniatures – Cesar Bresgen I. Ruhig II. Fließend III. Gehend IV. Wiegend. Rascher V. Gehende Viertel Grand Duo concertant in A major/A-Dur, op. 85 – Mauro Giuliani I. Allegro moderato II. Andante molto sostenuto III. Scherzo: Vivace IV. Allegretto espressivo Scherzo Capriccioso from/aus “Drei Stücke” – Alfred Uhl Sonata semplice, op. 18 – Jan Truhlář I. Allegretto con umore II. Andante III. Allegro scherzoso Serenade in D major/D-Dur, op. 19 – Leonardo von/de Call I. Adagio. Allegro II. Adagio III. Menuetto. Trio IV. Rondo When the listener also considers the various influences surrounding the composition of these works--which include World War II, a highly vocal bel canto style, and socialist realism to name a few--the result is a variety of styles that can be heard in the assorted works on this recording.     The partnership between Möst and Brčić is particularly well-balanced. Möst’s tone is sonorous, and her phrasing is tasteful and carefully done. Overall, this is an excellent recording of works for flute and guitar that are slightly off the beaten path.  --Tammy Evans Yonce...

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Quintessenz Incantations Album Review

Posted by on Oct 3, 2016 in CD Reviews, Featured, October 2016 | 0 comments

Quintessenz Incantations Album Review

The stellar flute quintet Quintessenz has released a new album Incantations with works by some of our favorite composers: Rossini, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Doppler, Clarke, Marais, and Saint-Saens. The flutists of Quintessenz are all members of important German orchestras including the Leipzig Gewandhaus and the MDR Symphony Orchestra and are soloists in their own right. This makes for a virtuoso combination of gorgeous playing!    On this album they include excellent arrangements (by Gudrun Hinze, their piccolo player) of familiar flute works by Doppler and Marias as well as favorite orchestral pieces by Mendelssohn, Saint-Saens, and Debussy in addition to some new works by Anze Rozman and Ian Clarke.  I especially liked their arrangement of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with its amazing ensemble, perfect interpretation, and for those of you practicing the Scherzo, a primer on how to play that difficult excerpt by five experts!     I loved Anna Garzuly-Wahlgren’s interpretation of the opening movement of Doppler’s Fantaisie Pastorale Hongroise, especially her addition of some traditional Hungarian ornaments as well as Gudrun Hinze’s sparkling piccolo. The bass and alto flute playing by Christian Sprenger (bass) and Bettine Keyßer (alto) were beautiful throughout--especially in the Marias as they added insight and harmonic complexity to the most interesting arrangement. Ute Gunther plays the Schnarrkopf Flute (buzzing headjoint) as the devil in the clever arrangement of Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre, a sound I’ve never heard before. It sent me to google to see what the buzzing head joint is… without a lot of luck!  Throughout the album, principal flutist Anna Garzuly-Wahlgren plays with beautiful sound, style, and charm.  This is a very well presented album as the liner notes by Gudrun Hinze are very informative and the English translation by Aaron Epstein is very clear. The booklet is well designed and the engineering is perfect. I hope they enter this album in the Grammy’s as it is well deserving of recognition for every element of the CD. --Barbara Siesel...

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Mithril Duo Bottom of the Punch Bowl Album Review

Posted by on Oct 3, 2016 in CD Reviews, Featured, October 2016 | 0 comments

Mithril Duo Bottom of the Punch Bowl Album Review

Principal Flutist of the Mobile Symphony Orchestra and Professor of Flute at the University of South Alabama Dr. Andra Bohnet is half of the Mithril Duo. Her partner on the Mithril Duo's seventh album release, Bottom of the Punch Bowl, is violinist Tom Morley.  From the liner notes: "The album is an intoxicating mix of musical spirits from Ireland, Scotland and the Shetland Islands, the Isle of Man and Sweden, played on flutes, whistles, Celtic harp, Scottish smallpipes, fiddle, guitar and the Swedish nyckelharpa." From the first moment of listening to the CD, one is instantly transported into other realms. This hauntingly beautiful CD features the 1700s “Celtic Baroque” works of Turlough O’Carolan, Neil Gow, and James Oswald. Each track features different instrumentation, and each track is a gem of it’s own. Bohnet weaves her flute magic, capturing each nuance with grace and sensitivity. Her partner, Tom Morley, provides luminous and tender counterparts. Together, they weave delicately fluid sonorities that are simply treasures to the ears.     The track “O’Carolan’s Favorite Jig” is sweet with its simplicity. This lilting melody is beautifully performed by the Mithril Duo. First, we hear Bohnet’s sultry flute on the melody followed by Morley’s engaging violin making this a buoyant and graceful rendering of this jig from start to finish. Get ready for some toe tapping fun with the Outlander Set: Loch Lomond/Comin’ Thro’ the Rye/Clean Pease Strae/The High Road to Linton. The Mithril Duo commences with haunting, slightly melancholic melodies which progressively get more rhythmic, and then launch into a powerful, energetic, and jovial reel that whirls into euphoric heights; a delightfully exquisite interpretation by the Mithril Duo.     Another cheerful favorite is "Spootiskerry" in which both Bohnet and Morley take turns playing the cheerful melody, making it a delightful rendition of this radiant and jovial tune. If you want to bring joy and heartfelt cheer into your day, run, don’t walk to purchase this album! --Viviana Guzman...

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Ransom Wilson Album Review

Posted by on Jul 1, 2016 in CD Reviews, Featured, July 2016 | 0 comments

Ransom Wilson Album Review

Flutist and conductor Ransom Wilson has a new CD of flute music by two wonderful French composers Jean Michel Damase (1928-2013) and Jean Françaix (1912-1997).  As a young student, Ransom Wilson heard the music of Jean Françaix and was enchanted--so much so, that he transcribed the Finale of Françaix’s Concertino for Piano and Orchestra for flute, cello and piano. He subsequently wrote to the composer for permission to play it! Wilson heard the music of Jean Michel Damase in the same year and was equally enchanted, so when he spent a year in Paris studying with Jean Pierre Rampal, Rampal introduced him to his old friend Damase, and a great friendship began. The first half of the album is music by Damase; it’s an especially valuable recording because the composer is at the piano and it’s his last recording as a pianist. In his introduction to the album, Wilson says about Damase: “ What a character!  He was teaching at the Paris Conservatory, but was famous as a ‘bon vivant’ and wicked ‘racontour'... He loved to have small gatherings of friends featuring his own cocktail invention: a deadly mixture of cognac, fresh lemon juice, and sugar!!” (sigh from this writer...) Scherzo for flute and piano (1957) is a lively, joyous work and, Trio for flute, oboe and piano (1962)--with the celebrated oboist Jacques Tys--is elegant and played with perfect ensemble. Quatour for flute, oboe, clarinet, and piano has marvelous writing for winds--it’s romantic, flowing, humorous, and all fits together with amazing intricacy. Damase’s music has an insouciance and charm that is filled with joy and is wonderful to hear.     The second half of the album is devoted to the music of Jean Françaix.  Wilson tells us that Françaix was "dismayed by the direction 20th century music had taken and saw himself as a quiet revolutionary. His goal in his music was to charm, and occasionally move the listener and above all to make us laugh at life and its pretensions” Suite for solo flute (1962) by Françaix is a set of six miniatures: all dances, with a unique French twist. Wilson plays precisely in the character of each piece and so in alignment with the composer’s intention that one ceases to be aware of his technique--it's perfectly there to serve the music. Wilson is accompanied by the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble in Françaix’s Divertimento for flute and chamber orchestra (1974). They accompany Wilson with taste and elegance, in sync with Wilson’s perfect intonation, vibrato, and tone. Listen for the amazing "Perpetuum mobile" (track 20)--it’ll send you to the practice room! This new recording is a beautiful tribute to French music and French wind playing in general. Wilson’s playing reflects the essence of French flute style, and it’s a great way to begin to understand the beauty and depth of 20th century style and writing for flute. It’s gorgeous!!   --Barbara Siesel...

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Aralee Dorough Album Review

Posted by on Jul 1, 2016 in CD Reviews, Featured, July 2016 | 0 comments

Aralee Dorough Album Review

The Ergonomic Flute is Aralee Dorough’s second solo album. Her first album Colors is absolutely exquisite, and this album is equally magnificent. In The Ergonomic Flute, Dorough explores the chamber music works of Mozart, Beethoven and Bach with colleagues Jennifer Owen, violin, Linda Goldstein, viola, Kevin Dvorak, cello, Jonathan Fischer, oboe, Colin Gatwood, English horn, and Scoot Holshouser, piano. This album is a gem--a delight to the ears featuring luxurious musicality, breathtaking sonorities, and impeccable intonation. Every piece features superb performances of these masterful chamber works for the flute. The Principal Flutist of the Houston Symphony, Dorough expresses her phrases with effortless ease and nobility. Her command of her instrument is impeccable. She plays the flute as if it were an extension of her voice. It is with fluent agility that her sounds soars with liquid phrasing and spot-on intonation. Her colleagues on the album share equal finesse and agility, providing a beautiful foundation for Dorough’s dazzling virtuosity.     From the CD liner notes: The Ergonomic Flute explores the latest collaborative innovation in the evolution of the mode flute. The unusual flute used on this recording is created by pairing the body of a traditional flute with a revolutionary head joint call the UpRite. Referred to as the “ergonomic flute” as performed by Aralee Dorough and invented by Sanford Derringer, this reconfigured modern flute has all the acoustic beauty of its transfers counterpart. The final track, Bach’s Air on the G string as arranged by Theobald Boehm, the 19th century inventor of the modern flute, makes reference to the timeless interface between inventor, performer and composer. Listening to this exquisite album, one cannot separate the difference between a transverse flute and the one used in this recording, the ergonomic flute. The most discerning ears would not be able to hear the difference between the two flutes. On this album, the performances are gracefully crafted, and Dorough’s flute is both delicate and robust, intoxicatingly effervescent and ardently poignant. This ravishing album, featuring delightful works of the 17th and 18th centuries, is a must for all flute music enthusiasts.   --Viviana...

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Alejandro Escuer Album Review

Posted by on Jul 1, 2016 in CD Reviews, Featured, July 2016 | 0 comments

Alejandro Escuer Album Review

Flux noun: The action or process of flowing or flowing out   Alejandro Escuer’s latest album, Flux, was released on May 27th, 2016. This is the fifth solo album released by Escuer and is a presentation of new electroacoustic works for the flute family. Each piece has its own character and is a great addition to the new flute repertoire. The opening track A Little Cloud perfectly sets up the atmosphere for the entire album by combining traditional playing and percussive/vocal effects with electronics that morph from one state to another, at times conversational and others creating new sounds together. Each piece on the album is experimental in this relationship, in the flux between the acoustic and electroacoustic worlds which Escuer so expertly navigates. One of the standout tracks for me is Eduardo Patida’s Las Torres which places the electronics in a very industrial sound world to punctuate the flute’s agile runs and expressive melodies, blending experimental, beat-driven electronics with meditative lines and some impressively quick percussive playing.     Pablo Mariña’s T.A.B.U. provides one of the calmer of the tracks and takes the form of a spatially manipulated solo making heavy use of distortion and reverb to layer flute’s myriad of sounds into a rich three dimensional space. My favourite track on the album is Invocación III: “Ehécatl”  by Rodrigo Espino. Ehécatl is a deity featured in Aztec mythology associated with wind, and Espino captures the idea of wind through musical, physical, and electronic means. Opening with a series of aeolian sound trills with emphasised key clicks, the flute is instantly understood as a vehicle for wind rather than a melodic device. The use of low flutes enables the air sounds to be richer and more defined, creating a panoramic image of trees moving in a breeze or, at times, a gale. To me, this piece feels like a spiritual successor to Jolivet’s incantations; a work which deals with the intangible in a creative sense, utilising contemporary methods of composition and performance in achieving a piece that is powerful, beautiful, and challenging. Listening to Flux in its entirety is a journey through different worlds. Worlds where sound is both treated and experienced differently through the flute and its relationship to electronics. At times violent and others etherial, Flux is a coherent body of work showcasing the very best of Escuer’s fearsome technique and compositional talent of South America. --Gavin...

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