Notes and Editorial Reviews
This extremely appealing disc showcases the talents of flutist Mary Stolper (and friends), not to mention seven talented composers from the Chicago area. The selection, featuring flute in combination with various other instruments, has been arranged to maximize contrast and variety, and although the range of styles is wide it conspicuously avoids the wilder avant-garde, a fact that most listeners will consider a big plus.
Lita Grier and Robert Muczynski both feature the combination of flute and clarinet. The latter's three little duos put the players through their paces without being especially memorable, but Grier's 3x2 has plenty of character in the service of strong musical ideas. Leon Stein's contribution, for
flute and percussion, exploits the wind instrument's "oriental" side and could very well pass for a work of Lou Harrison or a composer of the "West Coast" school. William Ferris' Lux Aeterna for flute and viola (beautifully played by Keith Conant) offers a touching elegy, but it feels its nine-minute length. Still, it makes an excellent foil to John La Montaine's deliciously breezy Sonata for Piccolo and Piano.
The largest work here is Sebastian Huydts' Music for Flute and Piano, which really showcases the flute's versatility while making ear-catching use of rhythmic ostinatos and spicy harmonic coloration. For many listeners, though, the real treat will be Easley Blackwood's gorgeously tuneful Rondo Caprice for Flute and Guitar, an instantly memorable work that deserves to be popular. It's hard to believe that this is its world-premiere recording (as is the case with no less than four of the seven works included here).
Mary Stolper plays all of this music with a rich, pure tone and with the mastery and musicality that we have every reason to expect based on her excellent disc of American flute concertos for this same label, and all of her colleagues (particularly clarinetist Eric Mandat) make an equally fine impression. Sonically, though, I wish there would have been a bit more space around the flute. You don't want to hear the soloist's breathing, clarinet valves clicking, and so forth. Because the basic sound is so clean and clear, this never becomes a serious problem, nor are the players especially noisy in any bothersome, non-musical way--but it's there all the same. In any case, the musical interest is such that this disc is self-recommending to any fanciers of contemporary chamber music, especially for wind instruments.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Duos (6) for 2 Flutes, Op. 34 by Robert Muczynski
Eric Mandat (Clarinet),
Mary Stolper (Flute)
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1973; USA
Length: 4 Minutes 25 Secs.
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