This disc opens with The
Yearling, written by flute player Laurel
Zucker, who is also one of the performers
on this disc. We can assume, then, that this
is a ‘definitive’ recording, with the composer
in complete control of the overall sound;
the performers also served as producers on
this CD. The piece has traditional harmony
with the character of a fantasy, fitting in
well with much of the flute’s repertoire.
Dedicated to the guitarist Mark Delpriora,
this piece takes its title from the novel
by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. It features a
well executed extensive guitar solo [2:46],
and the flute re-entry [5:15] is sensitively
played, with Zucker changing her tone to suit
a more delicate melody.
Roberto Sierra’s Cronica
del Descubriemento is a substantial work
in three parts, telling the tales of the meeting
between the native Indians of the Caribbean
and the Spanish conquistadors. The haunting
opening is played with a good sense of its
improvisatory character. The ensemble collaborate
well together, with the guitar working like
clockwork under the floating flute line. The
complex rhythms of the Danza were accurately
handled with a good sense of lightness and
flow. Zucker’s flute sound is warm and her
playing transports the listener to the atmosphere
of a Caribbean Island. The second chronicle
is the longest of the three. Noche has
a beautifully played opening, which conjures
up images of insects and of invisible things
making sounds in the night. The music-making
is full of character, and the beginning is
particularly effective in contrast to the
previous movement. Later, melodic fragments
from earlier in the work become increasingly
apparent. The ethereal sounds towards the
end of the movement, including breeze sounds,
pitch bends and whistle tones in the flute
are convincingly played. En busca del oro
(in search of gold) has an almost oriental
character, due to the repeated use of particular
pitches, which build up tension and drama.
Zucker has beautiful evenness of tone and
a singing high register, here supported by
expressive and sensitive guitar playing. The
final part of the Chronicles begins
with an improvisatory flute line over a guitar
melody. The piece ends with the Batalla
(battle). The composer’s metronome indications
seem quite slow, and this performance was
perhaps a little too sedate for a fiery battle.
The guitar solo had a sense of energy and
drive which was lacking when the ensemble
was together. The pizzicato effects work well
in both parts, with Zucker executing a difficult
technique with flair. The flow was sometimes
disrupted by over long tenutos in the flute.
The rhythmic writing is complex, with both
parts contradicting each other and conflicting
against the underlying pulse. I felt in general
that this was a little too ‘nice’ – I wanted
the sparks to fly with more violence and aggression!
On the whole, though, this was a fine performance,
with plenty of character and good technical
Jack Perla’s Pollack Plays
Jazz is a newly composed work which was
written specially for this duo. This CD contains
three of the eight movements; the complete
work is set for release next year. Towner
Country is gently undulating, with an
American feel. The music is wide and expansive,
and the momentum carries the work along. There
is excellent control from both players. Zucker
handles the high quiet melody in Spaghetti
Western with apparent ease. Fuzz Box
captures the spirit of 1970s Rock and Roll,
and provides wonderful variety, with some
fantastic guitar effects. This is refreshingly
different in comparison to the traditional
flute and guitar sound.
This CD was the first I’d
heard of a Mike Mower piece for this combination
of instruments and I was excited by the idea.
Mower’s music is well known by flute players
for its sense of fun, fusing jazz style with
contemporary classical. The Suite for Flute
and Guitar was no disappointment. This
delivers a virtuosic display for both performers,
and was admirably handled by these two players.
The first movement is short and explosive,
followed by a dreamy second movement, which
is full of atmosphere. This includes some
playful percussive and flutter-tongued effects
which interrupt the melodic line [0:52] and
inject further energy. The third movement
was my favourite, with its funky guitar riff.
This is typical of Mike Mower’s writing: enjoyable
to listen to and, from the sounds of it, enjoyable
to play. The players captured the style well
– these are performers who can handle anything.
Here, they transport us from the concert hall
to a smoky jazz club. The final movement is
fast and typically playful. There is a great
sense of ensemble and a strong, well-constructed
melodic line. The composer demonstrates an
excellent understanding of the instruments
and how they work together. He once again
uses percussion, and the melody breaks down
completely into tapping and clapping from
both players [4:56].
This is overall an enormously
enjoyable recording evincing high standards,
both in performance and in production values.
The players should be congratulated for their
adventurous programming and for bringing these
new works to the attention of the public.
These are polished performances, well balanced
and technically accurate.