Notes and Editorial Reviews
Kim McCormick (fl); Robert McCormick (perc)
RAVELLO 7814 (73:59)
2 Dirges, 3 Dances.
"The McCormick Duo devotes itself to the burgeoning repertoire for flute and percussion, a fertile genre of considerable coloristic variety and atmospheric potential. The modern flute can cut through the most tumultuous outbursts or blend sonorously with softer instruments, such as the marimba, while the percussion section is a multitimbral world unto itself. Part of the fun in listening to compilations like these is hearing how each composer chooses among the many available threads to weave an individual sonic tapestry.
, inspired by Bizet’s “Habanera” (not quoted directly until the piece is almost over, but sensed throughout) features a flexible, constantly evolving flute line in conjunction with hints of the basic dance rhythm; clicking percussion initially accompanies the flute until the marimba enters, adding a layer of sinuous counterpoint. As the music draws to a close, an evocative flute cadenza introduces a recognizable fragment of the famous tune and so,
. Daniel Adams’s
for marimba and flute alternates between slow, sustained sections and faster, more rhythmically incisive ones. There’s also a strong conversational feeling in the way lines are tossed back and forth, reminding me at times of jazz players trading fours, although here the rhythms are not so straightforward.
, written for the McCormicks by Paul Reller, is initially driven by an insistent marimba, minimally concentrated on a few tones, and a swirling flute; the two disparate ideas coexist rather than clash (an analogy for a successful marriage?). A slow section follows that gradually builds in rhythmic intensity. At times, the flute line becomes floridly virtuosic, with the marimba relegated to reinforcing the rhythm. Large sections are angular as opposed to lyrical, but not irritatingly so. Instead there’s a sense of forceful or determined action propelling the piece. Surprisingly, it suddenly trails off with a low, rather tuneful flute fragment.
The first of Stephen Montague’s
, scored for flute, marimba, and cymbals, is a moderately paced Italianate tarantella occasionally punctuated by a so-called “jet whistle” attack, not an easy sound to describe, but an effective one. The other two dances share the outgoing nature of the first, although they sound more Irish or English than Italian. I originally heard what I thought were electronic sounds in the
, but apparently it’s the humble wine glass that’s responsible for the memorably ethereal sound. The first dirge resembles Japanese gagaku in that there’s a slowly moving, almost static sound field pungently colored with long-held tones. I thought I could detect a medieval influence lurking in the background of the second dirge; imagine a modified Gregorian chant played by recessed marimbas while a mysterious flute pierces a cymbal-tinged fog. Howard Buss’s
has a spacey beginning, with a barely audible, murmuring marimba purring along beneath the exotic flute arabesque. There’s a dab of the Far East to the line, emphasized by pitch bends and flutter-tonguing. An extroverted middle section, this time more Western, eventually reverts to the opening mood as the piece ends. Chihchun Shi-Sun Lee’s rather abstract
for solo marimba (with the brief addition of a metallic lightning sheet at the beginning and end of the piece) bears a tenuous relationship to the Chinese song that inspired it; little snippets tease the ear with the promise that it will be fully revealed. My initial response to Hugo Weisgall’s
[see interview] was a bit harsh; perhaps it’s grown on me, for I now find the thematic material more involving and less tainted by the influence of the Second Viennese School. I even hear a playfulness echoing the casual titles of the four movements—“Starting Out,” “Scooting By,” “Mosying Along,” and “Taking Off”—whereas before I’d dismissed the piece as a sterile intellectual exercise. The intricate dialogue and complicated line is probably challenging for the players, but there’s no sign of strain in their confident execution.
To sum up, [this CD is]cfilled with colorful, engaging music that should please anyone with exploratory tastes. (Flutists and percussionists in search of new repertoire might be especially tempted.) Unusual music, exemplary performances, fine sound, informative notes, and attractive packaging: recommended."
FANFARE: Robert Schulslaper
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