Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Flights Of Fancy – Crescent Duo
John RUTTER (b.1945)

Three American Miniatures for flute and clarinet (1981)
Malcolm ARNOLD (b.1921)

Divertimento for flute, oboe and clarinet (1953)
Thomas Christian DAVID (b.1925)

Sonata for flute and clarinet (1980)
David LIPTAK (b.1949)

Duo for flute and clarinet (1992)
Norman C. DIETZ (b.1919)

Dialog (flute and bass clarinet) (1988-89)
Walter PISTON (1894-1976)

Three Pieces for flute, clarinet and bassoon (1925)
Donald SLOAN (b.1956)

Five Flights of Fancy for flute and clarinet (1984)
Antoni STALOWSKI (1907-1973)

Duo for flute and clarinet (1939)
David R.GILLINGHAM (b.1947)

American Counterpoint for flute, clarinet and alto saxophone (2001)
Crescent Duo (Joanna White, flute, Kennen White, clarinet)
Roger Rehm, oboe, MaryBeth Minnis, bassoon, and John Nichol, saxophone.
Recorded May 2001 in the Recital Hall, School of Music, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
CENTAUR CRC 2603 [70:20]


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Light, effervescent music, played with tremendous flair and vitality. I’d just been working my way through some discs of modern choral music – wonderful, but fairly heavy going – and this disc made the perfect foil. I assume that the two main protagonists here, the flautist Joanna Cowan White and clarinettist Kennen White, are husband and wife – sincere apologies if I’ve got it wrong!. Whatever it is, they play together quite superbly, and have sensibly invited other excellent wind players to join them in order to expand the repertoire and sound-world of the disc. However, of the nine works on the CD, six are for the flute/clarinet combination (bass clarinet in one case), and the programme opens with the most approachable of these. John Rutter’s Three American Miniatures are typical of the composer – light, charming, and beautifully written for the two instruments. The concluding Rag is particularly delightful, and owes something in its textures to the next composer, Sir Malcolm Arnold, for whose Divertimento the Duo is supplemented by the oboe of Roger Rehm. This is a more thoughtful piece than the Rutter, with a certain darkness creeping in from time to time, notably in the Languido.

I very much enjoyed the Sonata for flute and clarinet by the Austrian Thomas Christian David, a restlessly busy piece, which uses the often overlapping registers of the two instruments to create intricate, constantly changing textures – satisfyingly resourceful stuff.

The rest of the music is all American (as opposed to ‘All-American’ that is!). The best-known composer is Walter Piston, represented by his rather fine early Three Pieces for flute, clarinet and bassoon, this last instrument being played by MaryBeth Minnis (what a profusion of excellent female bassoonists there seems to be in the US at present). Piston’s concluding Allegro is a rhythmically urgent moto perpetuo, to whose considerable technical demands these performers are more than equal.

Perhaps the most interesting piece for me was the one which gave the disc its title, Five Flights of Fancy by Donald Sloan. This piece for the Duo is in five movements, each prefaced by a short quotation from, in turn, Unamuno, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Carroll and Yeats. The most extended section follows the Shakespeare quotation "…and sings a solitary song That whistles in the wind". Here Sloan has employed some interesting and often strikingly beautiful effects, for example asking the flute player to breathe through her flute rather than play normally, creating a haunting sound which comes close to the Japanese instrument called the Shakuhachi.

The remaining pieces are all well worth hearing. I especially enjoyed David R.Gillingham’s brilliant American Counterpoint for flute, clarinet and alto saxophone. The stylish, technically expert playing of all the musicians is captured perfectly by the sound engineers. This is far too good a disc to be confined to just a (relatively) few connoisseurs of wind chamber music. Thanks and congratulations to all involved.

Gwyn Parry-Jones

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