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Flauto con Forza
Arne MELLNAS (1933-2002) Rendez-vous II for flute and percussion (1983) [9:25]; Intimate Games for flute and chamber orchestra (1992) [4:49 + 7:15 + 4:47]
(b. 1967) Dance and Sentimental Song for alto flute and electronics (1998) [
10:09]; Concerto for Flute and Orchestra (2001) [4:54 + 8:46 + 3:46]
André CHINI (b. 1945) Icaregag (2001) [17:36]; Silent Notes for Madrid (2004) [5:15]
Anders Jonhäll (flute)
Daniel Norberg (percussion) [1], Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra/Pierre-André Valade [2-4], Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Pierre-André Valade [6-8], Ensemble Gageego! [9], Mats Bergstrom (guitar) [10]
rec. 19-20 December 2006, Concert Hall Helsingborg [2-4], October 2006, February, August 2007, Concert Hall, Gothenburg. DDD


Experience Classicsonline

Mellnäs’s Rendez-vous II is an imaginative work which makes effective use of the forces used. The flute-writing is varied and skilled, and ranges from the opening outburst of high-pitched energy to a calmer central section. The percussion combines with the flute as an equal duo partner, and a wide array of sounds are used. This is a dramatic work, which is performed here with an outstanding degree of understanding and poetry. The flute part requires singing and playing simultaneously and glissandi, as well as whistle tones, all of which are presented as they should be – that is to say that they have musical expression and are part of the flute’s arsenal of technical capabilities. There is nothing gimmicky about those techniques here, and they complement the musical expression of the piece beautifully. Composed for Manuela Weisler, celebrated exponent of contemporary flute music and teacher of Anders Jonhäll, this is a wonderful addition to the flute’s repertoire.

Equally dramatic in its opening, Mellnäs’s concerto, entitled Intimate Games is a truly soloistic tour de force. The flute works with and against the orchestra - the excellent Helsingborg Symphony - with many difficult moments of co-ordination and musical ideas passing to and fro between soloist and orchestra. The opening movement is a dramatic high-energy episode, which takes the flute far away from its pastoral roots. The calmer slow movement is no less emotionally charged. The intensity remains and there are some truly magical musical moments. The finale has a renewed sense of drive and determination and is wholly imaginative throughout, with a charming ending. Heard without a break, this is a fantastic work, played with wonderful conviction and an excellent sense of communication. I had not previously heard any of Mellnäs’s music, and this has served as a real eye-opener. 

The Dance and Sentimental Song by Per Martensson was composed in 1998. This is a wonderful work of just over ten minutes’ duration, which fuses the alto flute with live electronic processing. The two instruments work as one, with the electronic part reacting to the live sounds. Virtuosic in the extreme, this was written for Jonhäll while the composer was working at IRCAM in Paris. Using the full range of the alto flute’s capabilities, including microtones, air sounds and a variety of tone colours, this is an exciting work which shows that the alto flute can play so much more than just slow, low register melodies. 

Per Martensson’s Concerto is fascinating, as he uses live instruments to mimic electronic effects. For example, the beginning resembles delay lines. The piece develops to include broad, flowing tendrils, which are almost romantic in their aesthetics, and dissonant orchestral tuttis. The flute-playing here is stunning; Jonhäll clearly believes in the music he is performing, and he communicates the emotion of the music equally as well as he delivers the technically faultless virtuoso demands. Throughout the work he delivers changing moods and atmospheres, and has sensitivity, especially in the final movement, which is breathtaking in contrast to the more aggressive earlier parts of the work. Superbly accompanied by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, this is a stunning performance. 

André Chini’s work has a similar level of imagination, and, again, he uses the flute to its full effect. Icaregag uses larger members of the flute family as well as the standard C flute and piccolo, providing a variety of tone colours and sounds, and makes extreme demands of the performers. Based on the story of Icarus, the work describes a flight in space, and makes use of multiphonics and other contemporary techniques. The playing is once again excellent, both from the soloist and the members of Ensemble Gageego! This is a substantial work, at nearly twenty minutes duration, which has a constantly evolving sense of adventure. There is nothing static here, from the opening bars to the work’s dramatic end. 

The final work on this disc is Chini’s Silent Notes for Madrid for flute and guitar. In contrast to the previous work, this is quieter and calmer, dedicated to the victims of the Madrid terror attack in 2004. An atmospheric work, there are obvious hints at Takemitsu’s influence, particularly in the type of flute sounds asked for by the composer. Guitarist Mats Bergstrom performs sensitively and musically, balancing the flute’s sound well. 

For me, listening to this disc was completely inspirational. Produced by the Swedish Music Centre, it is a fine demonstration of contemporary music in Sweden. Anders Jonhäll’s playing is exceptional, and the pieces are all, without exception, fascinating, and deserve to become the stapes of flute repertoire in the future.

Carla Rees


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