"Echoes and Boundaries presents a program of short pieces composed for solo Native American flute by a number of composers, James Pellerite himself having written four of them. A number of different flutes are used, all based on historical models and handcrafted by Chris Ti Coom Flutes. Album photos picture wood instruments, beautifully carved with symbols that would have had deep meaning to the Native American cultures of the time. The flutes have between five and seven finger holes and are played vertically, like recorders, which brings me to their sound characteristics.
Pitched somewhere between the alto and tenor recorder, these flutesRead more have similar tonal qualities to their European cousins but without the penetrating edge that can lend the recorder an unpleasant shrillness. The Native American instruments, at least as heard here in the very capable hands of Pellerite, sound extremely mellow, producing a haunting, perhaps hypnotic tone that seems to be inviting the listener to join in a calm, peaceful oneness with nature.
Most of the pieces on the disc are of a style so similar it’s a bit difficult to distinguish between them. I’m sure there are differences in the complex melismatic patterns, just as there are in Asian Indian ragas, but it would take patience and a practiced ear to discern the subtleties, for instance, between SantaFe Galloway’s Night Chants and Marilyn Bliss’s Phantom Breeze. “Elusive,” on the other hand, one of the five pieces that make up Randall Snyder’s Prism, abandons the open prairies and lone wolves baying at the moon for a 16th-century Renaissance court and a dance tune that sounds a bit like an Irish jig. Pellerite’s own pieces are crafted for the instrument with an ear for its technical capabilities and unique tonal properties that only someone as expert a player as he is could fashion. The Cricket’s Charge is especially delightful, almost sounding like something by Vivaldi. The CD is self-produced and was recorded in 1999."
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