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Music for a Sunday Afternoon: American Chamber Works for Flute, Clarinet, Piano and String Orchestra
Jeff MANOOKIAN (b.1953)

Trio for Flute, Clarinet and Piano and String Orchestra (2000) *
Ramiro CORTES (1933-1984)

Elegy for Flute and Piano (1959)
Alec WILDER (1907-1980)

Suite for Flute, Clarinet and Piano (1980)
Leo KRAFT (b.1922)

Music for a Sunday Afternoon for Flute and Clarinet (1999)
Shulamit RAN (b.1949)

East Wind for Solo Flute (1987)
Robert MUCZYNSKI (b.1929)

Three Preludes for Unaccompanied Flute Op.18 (1968)
Duos for Flute and Clarinet in B flat Op.24 (1991)
Carson P COOMAN (b.1982)

Invocation for Solo Flute and String Orchestra Op.229 (2000)
Laurel Ann Maurer (flute)
Russell Harlow (clarinet)
John Jensen (piano)
Serenade Chamber Orchestra of Armenia/Jeff Manookian *
Recorded at Counterpoint Studios, Salt Lake City, Utah, January 2003
4TAY CD4027 [67.16]

The title of this adventurous disc comes from Leo Kraft who, along with Alec Wilder, is probably the best known of the septet of composers. Wilder is the oldest – he died in 1980 and many remember him fondly for his wide-ranging interests and attractive musicianship. Then there’s Carson Cooman who, if the notes are to be believed, was born in 1982 and was therefore was only twenty-one at the time, with over 300 compositions already under his belt. In which case he was a very serious minded and busy young chap and looks set fair to break all-comers opus records by the time he’s 23.

We start with Manookian’s Trio for Flute, Clarinet and Piano and String Orchestra which he himself conducts, a clever Bachian tribute but also brittle and surprisingly brusque in places. It’s in three movements of which the second is crepuscular and yearning. Little March themes step out and a very romantic warmth emerges towards the end of the Toccata - and fun in the coda. Cortes’ sliver of an Elegy – not four minutes long – is concise and adroit and Wilder impresses with his four movement Suite. High points are the offbeat jazzy, Scherzo-like second movement and the well-argued slow movement (marked III). Kraft shows his skill and, well, craft with the witty, pert piece for flute and clarinet that, as I said, gives us a warm-sounding title. There’s neo-classicism in the fourth of the five movements (marked "Fairly fast") and a piece of hoe-downy barnyardery in the capricious joie de vivre of the last movement, marked "Lively." All this in no more than about seven minutes.

Ran was composer in residence with the Chicago Symphony from 1990-1997 and her East Wind is a technically demanding piece that causes even Laurel Ann Maurer some difficulties. Muczynski studied composition with Alexandre Tcherepnin. He contributes his Duos for flute and clarinet all of which cover geographical and technical ground and are richly appealing. The Allegro risoluto is especially attractive: full of fresh air as are the Eastern sounding tints of the Moderato.

The notes are brief but to the point and the soloists, notably Maurer, make a strong case for these clever and attractive and often evocative works.

Jonathan Woolf

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