This CD of music for
unaccompanied solo flute played by Laurel
Zucker offers a chance to hear a number
of seldom-heard and little-known works
as well as some more familiar music.
Originally recorded some time ago and
released back in 1994, Zucker, a virtuoso
American flautist, plays a selection
from J. S. Bach onwards.
While an entire disc
of unaccompanied flute music such as
this might be considered by some to
be a little much, this considered selection,
and the all-round fine performances
and recording quality, provide a pleasant
surprise. More than half of the music
on this disc was written in the eighteenth-century.
While some of the performances are extremely
satisfying, there is, however, the ever-present
issue of these works being played on
a modern flute; so this disc may not
prove to be to everyone’s tastes.
The disc opens with
two short works by the nineteenth-century
French composer and flautist Johannes
Donjon. Both Elégie and
the title work of the disc, Song
of the Wind combine an acute lyrical
sense with flowing virtuosic writing,
admirably executed. These two works
by Donjon and the later work by Katherine
Hoover (Kokopeli), frame a selection
of movements taken from the first, third
and fourth of J. S. Bach’s Cello Suites.
The Cello suites show themselves to
be versatile works and they transfer
fairly convincingly to the flute, providing
further opportunity to display Zucker’s
technical and lyrical capabilities.
Written in 1990, Kokopeli
demonstrates the American composer
and flautist Katherine Hoover’s plentiful
knowledge of the flute’s capabilities
in a suitably atmospheric way. Most
of the rest of the disc contains more
music from the eighteenth-century in
the form of Georg Philipp Telemann,
J. S. Bach and his son Carl Philipp
Emanuel Bach. Zucker continues to show
herself to be in command, with immaculate
and careful phrasing and articulation
that makes the most of this repertoire.
Particularly impressive is the Sonata
for Solo Flute in A minor of C.
P. E. Bach, while the selection of
Fantasias by Telemann provides a
mostly more reflective and wistful impression.
The Partita in A minor of J.
S. Bach does not shine forth as brightly
as the other Baroque works in this recording.
The dance-like qualities are not always
effectively and consistently portrayed.
A composer in her own
right, the disc closes with a short
work by Zucker – Pandora’s Box.
Its improvised nature, shows effectively
how a relatively low and small range
on the flute can produce a varied array
of sounds and nuances.
A substantial and impressive
biography of Laurel Zucker could perhaps
have been complemented with at least
some notes about the music. Nevertheless
a recommended introduction to the music-making
of this fine player.