WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Zyman, Debussy, Amirov, Martin, Mower: Contemporary Works For Flute & Piano / Yarritu, Sanchez

Release Date: 10/14/2008 
Label:  Msr   Catalog #: 1277   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Samuel ZymanClaude DebussyFikret AmirovFrank Martin,   ... 
Performer:  Elena YárrituGabriel Sanchez
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Special Order: If we cannot ship this title in 45 days, your order will be cancelled and you will be notified via email.  
On sale! $16.98
CD:  $14.99
Special Order

Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCREE Elena Yárritu (fl); Gabriel Sanchez (pn) MSR 1277 (61:13)

ZYMAN Flute Sonata. DEBUSSY Suite bergamasque: Clair de lune. AMIROV 6 Pieces. MARTIN Ballade. MOWER Piccolo Sonata
One of the dangers of recording contemporary music is that most of the time one is preaching to the converted. “They” already know what to expect, but “they” make up a small crowd. So either one chooses really cerebral music, of the kind that will appeal to those who have heard everything and want the extravagant, the unreachable, the hermetic, or one goes over to the simplistic, conventional stuff that will appeal to a new audience. It is not easy to find a balance, and perhaps the best way to go about it is simply to play what one likes.

ElenaYárritu and Gabriel Sanchez seem to have decided to introduce the audience to their favorite works. The unconditional affection they feel for this repertoire is immediately evident, and is by itself good reason to buy the disc. But their choice of repertoire—mixing the familiar with the exotic—is so smart and balanced that they could have had the luxury of playing only passably well, and the CD would still be good. But they do much more than that. They are excellent performers who seem to be having a great deal of fun besides. They do not give the impression, for a second, of being on a mission. Rather, they seem to want to share their good times with us. Piano and flute are presented as two very well-defined entities that get along, discuss, talk, menace each other, love each other. If the recording focus seems to emphasize sometimes one or sometimes the other instrument, overall the balance is pleasing and reflects a generous disposition by both interpreters, who don’t mind leaving center stage to their partner. And the music is the winner, of course.

In the Sonata for Flute and Piano, composed in 1996, there is ample exploration of contrasts between impetuous rhythmic patterns and the display of many intervals of fourths and fifths—characteristic of Samuel Zyman’s writing—with slow, calm, modal, and spacious melodies, creating an interesting, cohesive work.

Going back in time, Marcel Moyse’s well-known arrangement for flute and piano of the famous “Clair de lune”—third piece of the Suite bergamasque by Claude Debussy (1862–1918)—is simple and lyrical, serving as a sort of poetic breathing moment between the more modern works. The addition of flute to the original solo piano, with its brighter tone and fluid speech, brings about a loss in nebulosity and mystery; yet this small gem manages to retain much of its original enchanting power. It is the only piece in the album composed in the 19th century (1890), but since the writing of the other works is certainly not avant-garde , it fits perfectly well with the rest.

Six Pieces for flute and piano by Fikret Amirov (1922–1984) has a strong ethnic flavor. One of the most important composers of Azerbaijan, Amirov was not worried about sounding particularly “contemporary” or original, and he chose to write music that is permeated by folklore. His pieces portray national stories and myths, with vivid evocative power. The local culture, essentially rural and strongly influenced by neighboring countries—Turkey, Armenia, Russia, Iran—is present through ornaments, melismas, and modal and rhythmic contours. “Song of the Aushug,” “Lullaby,” “Dance,” “In the mountains of Azerbaijan,” “At the Spring,” and “Nocturne” are all excellent proof that it is possible to write music that is at the same time fun, personal, and accessible (to the musicians and audiences alike).

The next work, by Frank Martin (1890–1974), is already a standard in the flute repertoire. A work of extraordinary expressive power and emotional intensity, it is not quite romantic, nor quite dodecaphonic. With primeval strains and intellectual yearning, it incorporates the best of both worlds, in a unique and unforgettable style.

The last and most recent work is a wonderful discovery, and not surprisingly, provides the name of the whole CD. By Mike Mower, it is in four movements, each one carrying the name of a geological formation. “Moraine” has a stark climate, notes spaced both in height and time, the flute using a straight sound, full of mystery and depth. “Escarpment” is fast, cheeky, jazzy, warm. The piano takes over the lead, and invites the flute to party. In the third movement, “Plateau,” both instruments explore their middle range, in an almost hypnotic dialogue that slowly breaks the resistance, somehow remaining in restricted range. The effect is sensual and fascinating. A free flute solo announces the last movement, “Scree,” where flute solos will alternate with strong dialogues full of tonal and rhythmic grooves, touches of jazz here and there, peaks of flaring energy and Latin spicing, in a relationship that is refined and visceral at the same time.

Mike Mower’s work was awarded a prize by the National Flute Association, and nothing could be fairer: it is as refreshing and amusing as a small avalanche of snow and icicles, carrying the listener in its wake. When was the last time that you heard the word “amusing” used to describe contemporary music? It is a piece that is bound to become incorporated into the standard flute repertoire, and an excellent choice to round up the program.

All in all, this CD will please both contemporary music lovers and people who are just starting to be interested in the music of the last two centuries. Warmly recommended.

FANFARE: Laura Rónai
Read less

Works on This Recording

Sonata for Flute and Piano by Samuel Zyman
Performer:  Elena Yárritu (Flute), Gabriel Sanchez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; USA 
Suite bergamasque: 3rd movement, Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Elena Yárritu (Flute), Gabriel Sanchez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1890/1905; France 
Pieces (6) for Flute and Piano by Fikret Amirov
Performer:  Elena Yárritu (Flute), Gabriel Sanchez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USSR 
Ballade for Flute and Piano by Frank Martin
Performer:  Elena Yárritu (Flute), Gabriel Sanchez (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; Switzerland 
Sonata for Piccolo and Piano by Mike Mower
Performer:  Elena Yárritu (Flute), Gabriel Sanchez (Piano)
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2002; England 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title