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Creative Mix
Dan WELCHER (b.1948)

Kiva from Spirit Realms (1996) [4:51]
Lynn GLASSOCK (b.1946)

Three Days in May (2001) [14:52]
Dana WILSON (b.1946)
Pu Em Remu … (From The Tears) (1997) [8:57]
Burt FENNER (b.1929)

Music for flute and drums (1997) [13:06]
Wolfgang HOFMANN (b.1922)

Sonata piccolo for flute and multiple percussion (1975) [8:05]
Peter TANNER (b.1936)

Diversions for flute and marimba (1958) [9:22]
The Armstrong Flute and Percussion Duo (Eleanor Duncan Armstrong (flutes); Dan C. Armstrong (percussion))
rec. Eisenhower Auditorium, Penn State Campus, 2002 (Glassock and Fenner); Esber Recital Hall, Penn State School of Music March 2003 (remainder)
GASPARO GSCD 364 [59:40]


These are versatile multi-instrumentalist performances. The lists of instruments wielded and corralled by the husband and wife duo of Eleanor Duncan Armstrong (flutes) and Dan C. Armstrong (percussion) is formidable. This also implies different performance "spaces" – in fact personalities throughout.

For example Dan Welcher, thankfully increasingly visible and audible on disc, asks for C flute and alto flute but also a veritable arsenal of percussion it would take a while to relate – sizzle cymbal (hello?), log drums (four), tom-toms and marimba amongst a number of others. Here we have a wind gong substituted for the tam-tam – so at least a degree of flexibility exists when it comes to instrumentation. Things aren’t always so extreme elsewhere but they are sometimes. There’s plenty to beguile the ear, though the instrumentalists have to work hard – and they betray no sign of the effort involved. Welcher’s Kiva plays adroitly with metrics, as well as bringing a heavy battery of percussion.

Lynn Glassock constructs an enticing Three Days in May. Sonorities ripple and there’s a feeling of Francophile limpidity throughout. The plumage here is fascinating, juxtapositions of avian flute and suggestive percussion adding viable almost visualised pleasure. The verdant Matisse quality of the central movement is contrasted with the syncopated drive of the finale. There’s also plenty of colour and incident in Dana Wilson’s 1997 Pu Em Remu … (From The Tears) where the flautist also plays percussion and both musicians engage in some discreet chants.

Burt Fenner enjoys a more extended canvas. Fulsome percussion tattoos create their own rhythmically complex sound world and the finale is an exceedingly exciting one. Hofmann’s Sonata piccola dates from 1975. It’s not at all wintry, offering instead one of the few truly witty moments in the programme in the shape of a finale of diverting lightness and not too much ironmongery. Finally we arrive at the earliest work, Peter Tanner’s 1958 Diversions for flute and marimba. Cast in six movements there’s no gainsaying this piece’s staying power. Employing the "less is more" principle when it comes to this combination Tanner’s ear is acute and his melodies strong. There’s a delightful Song – one can imagine a 1950s chanteuse going to town with it – a clear and insinuating waltz and then the French lines of the finale, maybe with a modest debt to Poulenc.

There’s plenty of variety here but even so the best works make themselves clear – the Tanner and Hofmann and then the Glassock. But everything has its place and the versatile performers bring effusive life to all these demanding works.

Jonathan Woolf

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