‘Out of the Cool’, verbally at least, summons up
the days of Gil, and Miles, and Where Flamingos Fly;
CBS and tight slim ties, and all that kind of clobber. It’s
David Heath who invokes it in his 1986 piece that gives its name
to the title
of the disc - but I suppose there’s a cool air to quite
a few works here, however simplistic that may sound.
For example Richard Rodney Bennett’s Winter Music has
assimilated serial procedure sure enough but progresses in a
kind of languorously pensive kind of way. An unsettled dialogue
between flute and piano occupies the central movement. Then a
mazily, meandering, uneasy passage opens the finale, before Bennett
relaxes his terse grip and takes the pianist way up high, the
flute lines resolving delightfully. His Summer Music was
written many years later in 1983. Here we find insouciant lyricism
in the first movement, an afternoon stroll of an Allegro tranquillo.
There’s a languid song with bluesy piano undertow in the
second movement - it’s a second cousin, once removed,
Funny Valentine - before the jaunty flute and slightly pawky
piano play a wry game to the finishing line.
Saxton’s Krystallen was premiered by Susan Milan,
to whom it’s dedicated. Saxton ensures there are spaces
in his landscape. Phrasing is flexible, and the writing is
extremely effective with regard to phraseology and colour. The Moon
Dances is not a relation of John Adams’s Chairman.
I will say though that this versatile and enjoyable piece opens
with bright energy, and takes in a carnivalesque element. The
slow movement establishes a darkening mien. It’s crepuscular
and insinuating and the flute’s ‘lost in the forest’ tone,
plaintive and regretful, is eventually displaced by the firefly
glitter of the finale.
Arthur Butterworth crafted Aubade in the same year that
Saxton wrote his flute piece, 1973. It’s a warm affair
and offers splendid opportunities for legato phrasing and breath
control. Whereas David Heath’s piece has a really confident
lyricism and hints of a Herbie Mann or Hubert Laws paternity
in some of the writing. Whatever, it exudes vitality and generosity.
Brian Lock’s Sonata was dedicated to Susan Milan and first
performed by her. Lock is not bashful. There’s driving
melodrama from the go, and throughout Lock has secreted moments
of Prokofiev-like drive and rhythmic emphases. His central
panel is quite spare, whilst the finale is a kind of perpetuum
and has the expected energy level.
Susan Milan, who has had a close association with a number of
these works, proves a first class, characterful and unimpeachable
guide. Andrew Ball offers staunch and imaginative support.
see also review by Carla Rees