Alessandro SOLBIATI (b.1956)
Ánthos (2016) [6:01]
As if to land (1989) [13:40]
Brian FERNEYHOUGH (b.1943)
Cassandra’s Dream Song (1970) [9:59]
Jonathan COLE (b.1970)
50 Florentine Breaths (2016) 14:01]
Salvatore SCIARRINO (b.1947)
Come vengono prodotti gli incantesimi? (1985) [9:15]
Nove (2016) [14:50]
Oltre (Narcissus) (2016) [10:15]
Sara Minelli (flute)
rec. EMA Vinci Service, undated
EMA VINCI CONTEMPORANEA 700121 [78:04]
The Italian-born flautist Sara Minelli has been based in London since 2011 and is a devoted proponent of new music for her instrument. In many respects she follows in the musical footprints of her eminent predecessor and compatriot Annamaria Morini, who died in 2016, and was herself an exponent of Alessandro Solbiati’s music, amongst much else.
That said, Minelli is clearly as devoted as Morini to the expansion of the solo flute’s repertoire and the recital contains new works written for her by Solbiati, Jonathan Cole, Alessandro Magini and Matteo Giuliani. There is also the world premiere recording of Solbiati’s As if to land, dedicated to Morini.
This is Minelli’s first solo disc and serves as a kind of artistic statement, a musical self-portrait. She plays both solo flute works and those with electronics – Magini’s Nove and Giuliani’s Oltre – with equal commitment. Solbiati’s Ánthos embodies an arresting funereal march, which owes its place to Morini’s death, and the music is imbued with a powerful sense of keening and space, where the flute and voice intone a mourning rite that is the more moving because so adeptly performed. Brian Ferneyhough’s 1970 Cassandra’s Dream Song is by some way the oldest piece in the disc, and its ascetic dialogues between voices are couched in a way that draws on the soloist’s full technical powers.
Cole’s intriguing 50 Florentine Breaths focuses instead on columns of wind, on the core of breath and silence, as the music flares up and recedes, a breath study replete with capricious little reveille-like figures; it lasts 14 minutes but never outstays its welcome. As if to land is a harmonically vivid piece with powerful narrative devices, such as percussive elements and an increasingly agitated sense of direction – though there’s also a brief avian paragraph to expand the music’s sense of reference yet further.
An inveterate explorer of sound worlds Salvatore Sciarrino’s piece, composed back in 1985, is notable for some startlingly intense devices, slashing interjectory whooshes that arrive attaca. This percussive piece sounds just as up-to-date in this performance as it must have been at its premiere three decades ago. Magini’s Nove for flute and electronics features a quarter-of-an-hour of juxtapositions between the two in a mirror dialogue, the flute oscillating between frantic or long-breathed; black and white win here - grey doesn’t get a look-in. Finally, there’s Giuliani’s Oltre (Narcissus), one of five world premičre recordings in the recital, written for Minelli but in memory of Morini – a perfect consonance between the two instrumentalists and perpetuating the Italian lineage they represent. It’s a rather more diaphanous piece than the others in the programme, though there is a ‘roar’ or two along the way of its ten-minute length. There are also quotations from Bach here and a sense that the work, rather like Ánthos, is honouring a life, but with rather different means.
With booklet notes in English and Italian both markets are covered. Sound quality is good, and the performances fiercely but sensitively committed. Minelli is clearly a formidable exponent of the contemporary flute repertoire.