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Konrad ěHRN (b. 1950)
The Flute Music
Dances – a suite (2012) [18:03]
Scherzo-Polka (2014) [4:23]
From 10 Miniatures (2014/15)
No. 1 [1:17]
No. 3 [2:05]
No. 5 [1:47]
No. 9 [2:54]
Concerto for 2 flutes and strings (2013)* [22:43]
Tora R°stvik, Katarzyna Kaminska (flutes)*
The European Flute Ensemble
CoOperate Orchestra/Adam Domurat*
rec. May 2014, Ignaz Paderweski Academy of Music, Poznań; October, Concert Hall of the Mieczyslaw Karlowicz Secondary Music School, Poznań.
ACTE PR╔ALABLE AP0381 [54:24]

I’ve been part of flute ensembles of one kind or another for more years than I care to remember so am always interested in hearing new repertoire for flutes, and having never heard of Konrad ěhrn was onto this one with alacrity.

A prolific composer, ěhrn’s music is as genial and approachable as he seems to appear in his pictures. Dances – a suite is a substantial six movement work, its movements given names familiar from suites from the Baroque or other periods. The music is tonal and light in style and character, with plenty of rhythmic liveliness. This is aided, even in slower movements, through the use of a double bass, chosen to add variety with pizzicato touches and “the possibilities for more legato playing in the bass”. As a subcontrabass flute player with pretty much all of these capabilities to hand my instinct is one of protest, but I have to admit that the string bass works very well indeed in this context. There is a sparky Gavotte with percussive slap sounds and a truly elegant Pavane amongst the dances, and the whole things makes for a fine and fun concert work.

The Scherzo-polka is “a fresh piece for sextet” of piccolo, four flutes and alto flute. This is another fun piece, the collection of higher instruments sometimes making for that ‘fluty’ sound but also exploring the lower ranges of the C flute and using the piccolo sensibly for added tinsel. The selection from 10 Miniatures is comparable in its charm, adding bass flute for further variety of timbre.

The main course in this set of flute dishes is the Concerto for two flutes and strings. This was composed as a kind of musical bridge between the conservatoires of Poland and Norway, to be performed by students from both countries. There is plenty of virtuoso dialogue between the soloists in the first movement, the second contrasting with a darker Adagio mood, the melodic/harmonic material portraying poignant nostalgia. The final Allegro molto has its rousing elements but ěhrn’s idiom prevents much happening by way of wild abandon.

This is a fine and entertaining collection of music for flutes, well performed and nicely recorded. Konrad ěhrn’s music lacks much in the way of secrets or subversion, and doesn’t mine the less comfortable regions of human emotion. This takes nothing away from the effectiveness and craftsmanship of each work, and flute fans will see this as a fine addition to their collections.

Dominy Clements