From the first haunting
moments of the first selection I knew
that this was going to be an album that
would hold my attention and speak with
quiet intensity. I was unfamiliar with
the work, composer and players, but
even without any foreknowledge the quiet
intensity grabbed and held me, demanding
attention and rewarding the experience
with a gripping musicality.
The album begins with
Lowell Liebermann’s Sonata for Flute
and Piano, a brilliant work in two parts.
The work is modern, colorful, and intense.
Throughout, it hearkens to The Rite
of Spring with the churning piano
laying the foundation for the soaring
melodies of the flute. The first movement
begins with an introspective melody
that twice explodes dramatically into
a rash of frenetic energy before recapitulating
to the original theme at the end. The
second movement is short and virtuosic
- quickly becoming a staple of the flute
literature. That status is certainly
deserved, as it is simply a marvelous
work, and skillfully executed here.
The next fourteen tracks
are selections from Bela Bartók’s
"Suite Paysanne Hongroise",
which was a result of his study of Hungarian
folk music. It was originally written
for solo piano. Paul Arma later reset
these works for flute and piano, and
Dennis and Armalong beautifully and
skilfully execute his arrangement here.
I readily admit my love for Bartók’s
music, but that can cause me to be very
critical of poor renditions of his work.
Here the five folk songs and nine dances
presented are tastefully and credibly
Lowell Lieberman is
again explored with his "Soliloquy"
for solo flute. Jeannine Dennis explores
this poignant piece in appropriate solitude.
It is exquisitely lyrical, and after
repeated listening ranks at the very
top of my personal list for solo flute.
I admit to not having heard it performed
extensively, but even so it would be
hard to believe that it could be better
Next is Otar Taktakishvili’s
Sonata for Flute and Piano. The Russian
work is in three contrasting movements,
and is certainly a wonderful discovery.
I was again unfamiliar with both the
composer and the work, but the performance
here presented has made me want to find
more of his work; surely one of the
greatest compliments. The second movement
is pensive nestled between two relatively
energetic selections that allow both
musicians to extend themselves. Ms.
Dennis and Mr. Amalong carry this off
First Sonata for Flute and Piano is
also a work that I was not intimately
familiar with, although I had been exposed
to it previously in live performances.
Here it is fabulously executed, again
with the syncopated, serpentine melodies
presented with clear, open lyricism.
I cannot speak highly enough of the
performance. The two musicians are perfectly
synchronized and present the composer
in the best light humanly possible.
In short, this album
has been a wonderful voyage of discovery
for me. The works I was familiar with
were wrapped in new trappings with the
flute taking the lead. However, the
majority of the pieces were new to me,
and this imposed discovery is one that
I am particularly grateful for. The
musicianship of the performers is unquestionable,
and the selections made are impeccable.
The money spent on this album is well
worth it as any lover of chamber music
will quickly find it to be one of their
favorites. I cannot recommend this album