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Johanna Beyer, Joan La Barbara, Larry Polansky, James Tenney / Margaret Lancaster

Release Date: 06/09/2009 
Label:  New World Records   Catalog #: 80665   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johanna M. BeyerLois V. VierkJoan La BarbaraJames Tenney,   ... 
Performer:  Beth GriffithMargaret LancasterMatthew GoldLarry Polansky
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

IO Margaret Lancaster (fl); Beth Griffith (sop 1 ); Larry Polansky (elec gtr 2 ); Matthew Gold (mmb, perc 3 ); NEW WORLD 80665-2 (59:13)

BEYER 1 Have Faith! VIERK 2,3 Io. Read more class="COMPOSER12">LA BARBARA Atmos. TENNEY Seegersong No. 2. POLANSKY 2,3 Piker

It almost seems as if the goal of this bracing collection of mostly contemporary pieces for flute is to make a virtue out of ugly sound. That is not so bad as it sounds, although if this notion offends you, dear reader, this CD is not for you. Of course, dissonance has been a spice in music from Palestrina to Prokofiev, the latter calling it the pepper of music, but he intended it as a condiment, not the main ingredient. It happens that Margaret Lancaster is a skilled enough flutist that we get a wide array of all of the possibilities of her instrument, including the conventional but lovely legato in the brief Have Faith! written in 1936 by Johanna Beyer, a work with a remarkably contemporary sensibility due to its unusual pitch patterns. Then there is Joan La Barbara in a new work, Atmos , constructed of guttural cries, gasps, moans, conveying a primitive amosphere. But is it music? To my ears, it is more sound effect than music, but in fairness to La Barbara, Atmos was originally concieved as a theater piece. La Barbara fans will probably enjoy this earthy performance; it does not make sense to me as a stand-alone work.

The late James Tenney was a master of finding wide meaning in the smallest of gestures. The Seeger referenced in Seegersong No. 2 is not Pete, but the mid-20th-century American composer Ruth Crawford Seeger, the stepmother of the famous folk singer. The plantive tune seems simple, even banal at first, but the listener slowly becomes accustomed to very minute and quirky variations in tempo and dynamics that lend the piece a paradoxical sense of richness. Larry Polansky also makes a virtue of simple and familiar material, taking a series of Shaker tunes and transforming them with wildly virtuosic and rather harsh-sounding elaborations. Lancaster’s performance captures the excitement of the material well.

Lois V. Vierk’s Io , like much of her work, is about texture and rhythm, and the relationship between these musical elements. The piece is superbly constructed, almost machine-like, and strongly reflects the composer’s study of the classical Japanese court music gagaku . I trust that Vierk, and the performers, would not object to my labeling this music as pretty. None of the music on this CD is conventional, but this work is probably the easiest to access.

FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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Works on This Recording

Have Faith! by Johanna M. Beyer
Performer:  Beth Griffith (Soprano), Margaret Lancaster (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Io by Lois V. Vierk
Performer:  Matthew Gold (Percussion), Margaret Lancaster (Flute), Larry Polansky (Electric Guitar),
Matthew Gold (Marimba)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 10 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Atmos by Joan La Barbara
Performer:  Margaret Lancaster (Flute), Margaret Lancaster (Alto Flute), Margaret Lancaster (Native American Fl.),
Margaret Lancaster (Piccolo), Margaret Lancaster (Bass Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 14 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Seegersong no 2 by James Tenney
Performer:  Margaret Lancaster (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 12 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Piker by Larry Polansky
Performer:  Margaret Lancaster (Flute), Larry Polansky (Electric Guitar), Matthew Gold (Percussion)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 19 Minutes 30 Secs. 

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