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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.