Andy Findon - Density 21.5
Andy SCOTT (b.1966) KBM [5:28]; Edgar VARÈSE (1883-1965) Density 21.5 [3:43]; Michael NYMAN (b.1944) Song for Tony [5:21]; Geoff EALES The 11th Commandment [5:35]; J.S. BACH (1685-1750) Partita in A minor for solo flute [13:17]; Andy SCOTT Eighteen [2:28]; Michael NYMAN Canzona [6:42]; David HEATH (b.1956) Coltrane [6:47]; David CULLEN (b.1942) Sonata for solo flute [9:10]; Michael NYMAN Yamamoto Perpetuo No. 5 [3:29]; Yamamoto Perpetuo No. 9 [2:18]; Michael NYMAN Song for Tony [5:23]
Andy Findon (flute, alto flute, piccolo, baritone saxophone),
rec. 11-12 April 2011, Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk. DDD
NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6157 [66:45]
Long-standing member of the Michael Nyman Band and one of the UK’s leading session musicians, Andy Findon is known for his versatility and flair. This disc of unaccompanied works demonstrates Findon’s skills on flute, alto flute, piccolo and baritone saxophone, with repertoire ranging from J.S. Bach to world premiere recordings of recently written works.
The opening track, Andy Scott’s KBM is an appealing jazz-style piece which creates a laid-back atmosphere, despite the technical demands on the player. Varèse’s Density 21.5 is the title track of the disc, and is heard here performed on a platinum flute, as the work was originally intended. The difference in tone between this and the previous work is striking, with the platinum flute possessing a brightness and power that is particularly impressive in the extreme high register. Findon’s playing here is utterly dazzling, with a sense of total commitment to the music. This makes for an emotionally intense performance.
The rich warmth of the baritone sax comes as an enjoyable contrast and Nyman’s Song for Tony is a simple, resonant melody which is later also heard on the flute at the end of the disc. The piece gradually grows in intensity as the music progresses. Geoff Eales’ The 11th Commandment is a jazz work with an 11/8 time signature, which helps to give it a distinctive character. This is a demanding work which presents numerous challenges to the player. Findon remains in control and full of energy throughout.
No solo flute CD is complete without Bach’s A minor solo sonata, and Findon’s rendition of the opening Allemande is refreshingly simple, avoiding too much rubato and giving the music just enough space to breathe. The Courante is light and sprightly, with well articulated semi-quavers and some enjoyable ornamentations. The Sarabande is haunting and the Bourrée Anglaise is well measured and controlled, with more charming ornamentations. Findon’s personality comes out strongly in this performance and while the interpretation may not be to everyone’s taste, it is refreshing to hear a version of this piece which has such a clear sense of a performer’s musical persona.
A second Andy Scott work, Eighteen for baritone saxophone follows. This is a bubbly piece with some infectious riffs and an impulsive sense of energy throughout. Michael Nyman’s Canzona is heard here in recorded form for the first time too, although it was composed for flute player Clarissa Melville in 1965. This is a charming work which develops to incorporate repeated rhythmic fragments and contrasting moods.
Coltrane is one of Dave Heath’s best known flute works. This is the first time the flute has been recorded on an alto instrument, at the suggestion of the composer, and the result is extremely convincing. Findon has a natural sense of the required style, and the sound of the alto flute brings out the Eastern influences. This is without doubt one of the best renditions of this piece that I have heard.
David Cullen’s Sonata is in three movements, and builds up harmony through the use of arpeggiated figures and repeated intervallic fragments. Cullen is best known as an arranger and orchestrator for theatre, but his compositional skill is not to be ignored. The first movement has the feel of a considered improvisation, with lyrical lines and a sense of organic development. The second movement features rapid articulation in alternation with more flowing melodies, while the final movement is contemplative with some enjoyable twists of phrase. It is played with expression by Findon.
Two other Nyman tracks complete the disc. They are taken from Yamamoto Perpetuo and are convincingly performed on baritone sax and piccolo.
Overall this is an impressive disc which has much to offer, including a good selection of new repertoire. Worth exploring.
An impressive disc … Worth exploring.