Eight Visions: A New Anthology for Flute and Piano
Kenji BUNCH (b.1973)
Paul MORAVEC (b.1957)
Nancye’s Song [4:56]
Chen YI (b.1953)
Three Bagatelles from China West [7:58]
Tania LEON (b.1943)
Eve BEGLARIAN (b.1958)
I will not be sad in this world [6:23]
David SANFORD (b.1963)
Klatka Still [8:03]
Melissa HUI (b.1966)
Ned ROREM (b.1923)
Four Prayers [11:54]
Marya Martin (flute); Colette Valentine (piano)
rec. 12-15 December 2007, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York DDD
NAXOS 8.559629 [59:46]
This disc contains a range of world premiere recordings of new works for flute and piano. The project to commission eight new works was begun by flautist Marya Martin in 2005, and was supported by Meet the Composer. They were premiered at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in 2007.
Kenji Bunch’s Velocity is an excellent opener, with some virtuoso displays and a relatively simple musical language which combines eighteenth century devices with a hint of jazz and bitonality. The title suggests speed, and there is a wide variety of colour and texture in this eight minute piece, maintaining a sense of drama and variety. This is enjoyable and has much to offer; I can see this becoming a repertoire standard. The performance from Marya Martin and Colette Valentine is excellent throughout.
Nancye’s Song by Paul Moravec contrasts well in mood, with long, languid melodies and a sense of spaciousness within the texture. Composed in memory of Marya Martin’s mother, this is a poignant work which is played here with a sense of emotional intensity.
East meets West in Chen Yi’s folk-inspired Three Bagatelles from China West. The melding of styles works well here, and the angular opening movement has an enjoyable contemporary feel which contrasts well with the previous work. The piano part in particular in the second movement has a strong American feel, which offsets the flute line which is based on a Chinese melody. The finale has a toccata-style accompaniment and a sense of drive throughout. This is a fascinating work where styles merge and combine to create music with an individual and distinctive voice.
Tania León’s Alma (meaning soul or spirit in Spanish) is an enjoyable piece in a contemporary style which has elements of dancing rhythms, playfulness and dialogue. Describing air moving through wind chimes, the piece gathers a wonderfully elegant momentum with appealing interruptions of flow in the effective rhythmic writing. Elements of jazz also permeate the piece, providing a sense of enjoyable earthiness to the harmonic language.
Eve Beglarian’s I will not be sad in this world is an arresting work for alto flute with electronics, based on an American troubadour song. This is a beautiful piece which uses the sonority of the alto flute to excellent effect, creating a tranquil and meditative atmosphere. Highly enjoyable.
Klatka Still by David Sanford takes its influences from jazz trumpet playing and Polish football fans. These apparently diverse elements are combined to form a two movement structure which possesses rhythmic energy and some technical challenges for both players. This performance has panache throughout and the players make easy work of Sanford’s engaging music.
The stillness of Melissa Hui’s Trace contrasts well, with silence and space forming important elements. The atmosphere created is particularly effective, drawing the listener into an intense but contemplative sound-world.
Ned Rorem’s Four Prayers end the sequence. Rorem’s first two have a sense of inner calmness, despite varying tempos and moods. Long melodic lines soar over moving piano gestures in the second of the prayers, while the third takes on a more aggressive feel, with short gestures passing between the instruments and some fluid arpeggiated lines. The final movement returns to the slower tempo of the first, ending proceedings with a sense of calm. The twelve minute duration passes by quickly and each of the pieces works well individually, as well as in conjunction with those around it.
This is an ambitious commissioning project which has been highly successful. The works have an excellent range of styles and moods and are of a consistently high quality. They are all worthy of being adopted into the flute’s twenty-first century repertoire, and Marya Martin and her colleagues should be congratulated for making this project happen. The performances are admirable throughout, presenting the music in the best possible way. This is inspiring work which deserves to be heard.
Inspiring work which deserves to be heard.