LA SPIRITATA 2 • Flautando Köln • ARS MUSICI 232418 (68:55)
ANONYMOUS 2 Estampies. 3 Irish Folk Tunes. Saltarello. 3 Playford Tunes. LANDINI Adiu dous dame. THOMAS Inherent Patterns. BUXTEHUDE Ciacona in e, BuxWV 160. VIVALDIRead moreConcerto in d, op. 3/11. MÜLLER Un cuento pequeño. MULLIGAN Line for Lyons. UCCELLINI Aria Quinta sopra La Bergamasca. ISAAC 4 Tenorlieder. CALDINI Fade-Control
Flautando Köln is an ensemble of four German women (Katharina Hess, Susanne Hochscheid, Ursula Thelen, und Kerstin de Witt) who play a variety of recorders, ranging from soprano to “Grossbass.” The latter may be what is depicted on this CD’s cover; it is easily taller than any of the four musicians. (Imagine taking that on an airplane!) On many of the tracks they are joined by percussionist Torsten Wilke Müller, who also composed Un cuento pequeño—which, if my high school Spanish doesn’t fail me, means a little story. There’s also passable singing in the virelai by Francesco Landini, although the booklet does not make it clear who the singer is. The repertoire ranges from the 1400s to modern times.
This is the ensemble’s sixth CD, and obviously a sequel to an earlier CD with a similar theme. “Spiritata” means capricious, and the capriciousness of these two programs lies in their unpredictability and breadth. Also capricious is the fact that the modern works, rather than coming at the end, serve as interludes throughout the CD. That might disconcert some listeners. I didn’t dislike the modern works, but I thought that jamming them in between much older music did no one any great favors.
Early-music fans will recognize several of the works on this CD, and will likely appreciate how readily they adapt to being played by a recorder quartet, with or without percussion. The Gerry Mulligan arrangement (effected by Bianca Kerres) is gently amusing. Steven Thomas’s intriguing Inherent Patterns sounds like a collaboration between Ligeti and Reich, whereas Müller’s work is more poppy—like a Barry Manilow tune, with a marimba, no less. Fulvio Caldini’s minimalist Fade-Control is, to a degree, process music, and would be more interesting had other composers not plowed that particular field rather thoroughly already.
It is fascinating to hear a variety of recorders playing singly and together, and Flautando Köln’s musicianship is on a high level. No complaints about the performances, then, nor about the engineering, which captures the instruments’ characteristics well. If the program is not too spiritata for you, then it is likely that you will enjoy this.