August 2018CD ReviewsFeaturedIssuesReviews

Alexa Still: Album Review

Syzygy, Music for Flute by Efrain Amaya, Alexa Still, Flute and Robert Shannon, Piano.

Alexa Still has a brand new CD of the music of composer Efrain Amaya, which was recorded and produced by Oberlin Music, the official recording label of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where Still is the Flute Professor.

Syzygy means “moving together for a common goal," and it is clear that in recording this composer, Still is moving us to a common goal of hearing and learning about some fabulous music to add to our repertoire. Efrain Amaya is an American composer and conductor born in Venezuela. He’s taught and conducted at Carnegie Mellon University and with many American Orchestras including the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Venezuela, and his works have been performed at many festivals worldwide.  He is currently on the faculty of Minot State University and music director of the Minot Symphony Orchestra.

Amaya is a very accomplished composer. These pieces are complex stories, musically and technically, and they are also very beautiful. For example, in Malagigi The Sorcerer, Amaya tells us through music of a story from Bullfinch’s mythology, of Rinaldo's nephew of Charlemagne, who in the pursuit of glory tames the untamable horse. The work is evocative and played with incredible color and virtuosity by Still and her pianist Robert Shannon. The second movement, Arden Forest, takes us on a wild virtuoso ride in the opening flute cadenza that mimics the birds of the forest, and then into a section depicting the inner feelings of the enchanted horse and Amaya is very adept at writing these musical stories for us to understand.

The entire album continues in this vein of music making and storytelling and Still tells these stories through music with verve, intensity and great musical and technical understanding. She is equally matched by Shannon who joins her in virtuosic playing and ensemble.

Other excellent players on the album:

Darrett Adkins: cello (Pres-ent)

Aram Mun: flute (Pathways)

Tasiaeafe Hiner: wine glass, rain stick (Malagigi)


--Barbara Siesel

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