LíEspace Entre Nous
Noel ZAHLER (1905-1974) Líespace entre nous (1949) [10:14]
Nikita KOSHKIN (b.1956) Oratorium Lacrimae (1996) [25:35]
Edison DENISOV (1929-1996) Sonata for flute and guitar (1997) [17:11]
Lowell LIEBERMANN (b.1961) Sonata, Op 25 [12:44]
Gro Sandvik (flute), Stein-Erik Olsen (guitar)
rec. 29 February-3 March 2008, Vaksdal Kirke, Norway. DDD
SIMAX PSC 1268 [65:38]

This disc contains four major contemporary works for flute and guitar, covering a range of compositional styles. The title track, Líespace entre nous by Noel Zahler is a modernist piece which features an array of contemporary flute techniques and some interesting textural variety between the two instruments. This is fascinating and is performed with mastery and a sense of musicality. The sounds are never allowed to become gimmicky, and instead contribute to a constantly evolving and imaginative soundscape. The ten minute duration went by quickly and I could easily have heard more.

In stark contrast, the melodic opening of Nikita Koshkinís Oratorium Lacrimae shows a different dimension of this instrumental combination, with the flute gently accompanied by a rhythmic guitar part. This feels more connected to the tradition of flute and guitar repertoire, and the dance-like Ave Maria is charming and well constructed. The Dies Irae opens with a solemn guitar melody, featuring dotted rhythms, which gradually evolves into a triumphant and cheerful dance. A slower and more contemplative coda follows, and the performers do an excellent job here of bringing out the different emotions in the music. The Offertorium has a Spanish feel, and the Tuba Mirum has the feel of a crazy, somewhat - albeit intentionally - out of control waltz. This is dazzling, and beautifully contrasted with the lyrical opening of the Credo which follows. The movement develops into an Eastern-style dance, which has much charm. The final Gloria, is the longest, and features some wonderfully executed pitch bends in the flute part, over some impressive guitar tremolos. A cheeky dance follows, and the movement builds in intensity towards its climax, with a quotation of a famous classical work bringing proceedings to a close. This is an enjoyable piece with much to offer.

Edison Denisovís Sonata has a haunting opening, which particularly features the flute and contains some fascinating quarter-tone based harmonies. This is an extended work in three movements, of which the first is longest. Denisovís musical language is expressive and has some moments of spectacular beauty. Throughout, both performers demonstrate mastery of their instruments, warm tone and excellent musical communication.

Lowell Liebermannís flute works are known for their atmospheric slow movements and technically challenging fast movements. This piece is no exception, and the two movement piece features an eight minute slow movement with twisting melodic lines and haunting harmonies, followed by a short and dazzling Allegro. The players handle the challenges with a sense of bravura, never losing control and bringing energy to the music. In this dramatic and enjoyable performance there is an excellent sense of ensemble throughout.

This is a fascinating disc with some very interesting repertoire which will be new to many listeners. The variety contained within it is excellent and the performances are of a high quality throughout.

Carla Rees

A fascinating disc with some very interesting repertoire which will be new to many listeners.