AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Isophone – Bise [Setola di Maiale SM4040]

“Isophone” is defined as a phonetic feature shared by some but not all speakers of a dialect. The musical equivalent might be a sound shared by some but not all instruments of the same type. It’s a fitting name for the duo of Rosa Parlato and Claire Marchal, two flutists whose music arises at the sonic crossing points and divergences of their instruments.

Both artists bring substantial backgrounds to their collaboration. Parlato, originally from Italy and now resident in France, was trained at Rome’s St. Cecilia conservatory and has performed music ranging from electroacoustic improvisation to the “chamber noise” of the Wasteland quartet. Marchal has participated in multi-modal collaboration with visual artist Céline Boinnard as well as in the Baroque and modern flute duet Melle GLC with flutist Elodie Frieh.

On Bise, Parlato and Marchal demonstrate a close improvisational rapport. Their voices are highly mobile, darting back and forth between foreground and background: one may play a repeated note or simple rhythmic figure while the other layers elaborately crafted melodies on top, before both converge on a microtonally separated drone or braid rapid flurries of notes around each other. Their improvisations are essentially melodic but with the balanced integration of extended technique and voice for timbral shading and contrast. The collective sound always seems directed toward a center—a tone or short melodic or rhythmic motif acting like an attractor or a center of gravity—but for these two creative voices a center is ultimately a point of departure rather than a state of rest.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Osvaldo Coluccino – Interni [Kairos 0015062KAI]

Before he began writing music as a mature composer, Osvaldo Coluccino (b. 1963) was a literary artist. Although he had studied composition and classical guitar, had performed in concert halls in his teens and had begun to compose in 1979, from the end of the 1980s to the early 2000s Coluccino was mainly engaged in writing: poetry, drama and prose. Poetry in particular demands an ear for words as sonorous objects as well as a grasp of language as potentially an instrument of condensed meaning—of saying much with little. And while Coluccino may consider his work with poetry and with composition to occupy two separate and largely unconnected spheres, it does seem that both of those qualities of poetry—sonority and economy of expression—carry over into his compositions.

This is especially true of Interni, a 2017-2018 series of five solo compositions for various flutes and one for flute and electronics. As he did with earlier works, like the Emblema series for small chamber ensembles and Atto, which was composed for objects rather than musical instruments, Coluccino with Interni makes music focused on the quiet details of sound production and color.

From the opening notes of Primo interno for C flute, Coluccino’s sensibility reveals itself. In as pure an example of klangfarbenmelodie as one could want, Coluccino calls for each of the first four notes—all of them a G—to be played with different extended techniques, yielding a melody consisting of a sequence of changing timbres over constant pitch. As with the first Interno, so with the rest: the entire series stands as a kind of encyclopedia of extended flute techniques. These include key clicks, whistles, palate snaps, tongue rams, air pizzicato, multiphonics, harmonics and more. Coluccino draws attention to the specific characteristics of his sonorities by separating them with palpable rests; these islands of sound then function as brief meditations on sound in its qualitative dimension.

Interno sesto for contrabass flute, bass flute and electronics maintains the consistency of the preceding Interni by couching complex timbres at relatively low dynamics. The electronics serve as a kind of background curtain of undefined noise and a screen on which the flutes can project their sounds.

This music requires a technically advanced performer with an ear attuned to nuance; Coluccino is thus fortunate to have these fine works realized by the Italian flute virtuoso Roberto Fabbriciani.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Orlando Cela – Shadow Etchings [Ravello RR7982]

In the burst of musical creativity that characterized the postwar period, the flute was at the forefront. A new generation of instrumentalists helped redefine its voice and attracted the attention of avant-garde and experimental composers: in fact, the very first Sequenza Luciano Berio composed was for the flute virtuoso Severino Gazzeloni. Similarly, the second volume published in the celebrated mid-1970s New Instrumentation series of monographs was The Avant-Garde Flute. Shadow Etchings, a solo recording by Orlando Cela, is firmly within this tradition.

Cela, born in Venezuela but currently based in Boston, is a flutist conversant with the historical literature but specializing in contemporary performance practices. Thus it’s no surprise that the pieces on Shadow Etchings highlight the flute’s expansive range of sounds and techniques. Cela is a consummately musical player, though, and one who consistently turns technical challenges toward expressive ends.

The first piece, Jean-Patrick Besingrand’s Le soupir du Roseau dans les bras du vent, represents a witty bit of historical revisionism. Starting with the opening phrase of Debussy’s Syrinx for solo flute, the piece gradually dismantles Debussy’s melody through a set of variations based on timbral or technical effects. These include voiced notes, air notes, overblowing, flutter-tonguing and more. The formal structure of Debussy’s phrasing is somehow retained in a series of allusions, even as these allusions stray farther and farther from direct reference. Robert Gross’ Variations on a Schenker Graph of Gesualdo for flute and electronics, written for Cela, also recasts an earlier work, in this case a madrigal by Carlo Gesualdo as interpreted through Felix Salzer’s Schenker graph. Source material aside, the real substance of the work consists in the interaction of Cela’s performance with its electronic capture, manipulation, and playback. Greek-American composer Statis Minakakis’ Skagrafies II—the disc’s title track in the original Greek—was also written for Cela. This three-movement work for flute and piano resonance lays bare, often in an understated way, the complex interactions of dynamics, pitch and timbre as all three depend on, and take their particular shape from, the volume and force of breath. Lou Bunk’s Winter Variations, a duration-based, graphically-notated work for any pitched instrument, calls as well for an extended palette of sounds with a focus on microtones and multiphonics. Its realization here as a duet for flute and piccolo and piano (played by Sivan Etedgee) brings out the sometimes stark contrasts in color and temperament between wind and percussion.

Other works included in this fine collection are Dana Kaufman’s Hang Down Your Head, a set of variations on the folk song Tom Dooley, Edward Maxwell Dulaney’s A turning inwards, and Ziteng Ye’s program piece Self-Portrait.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: React – Music for Flute, Violin & Interactive Computer [Ravello RR7930]

5x5The pairing of violin and flute has a long history. During the Classical period, flutes doubled violin melodies in order to cast them in a brighter timbre. In modern ensembles the two voices generally take on independent roles to establish timbral contrast in the upper voices and to maintain more open textures. With the addition of electronics and the potential multiplication of voices they afford, the possibilities available to violin and flute both in tandem and separately broaden considerably. The compositions on React, a collection of new music for violin, flute and electronics by American composers Ben Johansen, David Taddie, Russell Pinkston and Margaret Schedel, bring many of these possibilities to realization.

The music came together during November, 2014, when violinist Mikylah McTeer and Taddie, who are on the faculty of the West Virginia University School of Music, went to the University of Texas, Austin and Baylor University for residences. While there, they collaborated with flutist Francesca Arnone of Baylor and the University of Texas’s Pinkston, as well as Baylor alumnus Johansen. New works resulting from the residencies were premiered at Baylor and Austin, and then presented at a concert at the West Virginia University Creative Arts Center in January, 2015. The WVU concert also included Stony Brook University’s Schedel. The recordings that appear on this CD—performed by McTeer and Arnone—are from the performances at Baylor and the WVU Creative Arts Center.

Johansen’s two compositions Interact and React, scored for flute, violin and interactive computer, open and close the recording respectively. Both pieces incorporate indeterminate and improvisational elements, which are realized not only through the random effects of live processing, but through the interactions of the violin and flute as well. Interact is a strongly contrapuntal, consonant piece which uses processing to multiply the two instruments’ energetic, independent lines; React is a more subdued, slowly developing work that makes good use of negative space and low dynamics, as well as extended techniques such as air notes and percussive effects. Taddie’s Category 5 (Echoes) for violin and flute/alto flute/piccolo and computer arranges violin and flutes in separate but overlapping spaces, as if in juxtaposed soliloquies accompanied by an electronic, abstract orchestra made up of samples of the two voices. Vox Clamantis, an expressive piece by Pinkston, is stamped by a strong, modally-inflected sense of melody. Schedel’s QfwfQ (A Voice a Point of View) is named for the narrator of the stories in Italo Calvino’s Le Cosmicomiche and carries the kind of uncluttered, minor-key gravity appropriate to a story-teller as old as time.

React includes three works for solo instruments. Taddie’s Luminosity for flute and electronics features a modally-evocative flute line accompanied by archetypically “electronic” sounds. Pinkston’s Lizamander for flute and electronics—a version of which, featuring Elizabeth McNutt on flute, was released on his recent Balancing Acts CD—is here, as is Schedel’s Partita, Perihelion for solo violin and electronics. This latter work, inspired by Bach’s works for solo violin and cello—Schedel, it should be noted, is a cellist as well as a composer—is, like the Baroque dance suite it’s modeled on, divided into movements for allemande, sarabande and gigue, the forms of which are interpreted in a free, and sometimes counterintuitive, contemporary manner. The gigue, for example, usually a very lively dance, is here played as a slow adagio. The Max/MSP program accompanying the violin, by adding a second voice, makes explicit the harmonies implied by the instrument’s line.

Daniel Barbiero

AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Meerenai Shim – Pheromone [Aerocade Music]

a0156861643_16Pheromone, the third solo recording by San Francisco-area new music flutist Meerenai Shim, is a fine collection of new electroacoustic works, all but one of which were commissioned for this recording. The six compositions encompass their composers’ individual approaches to integrating the flute with electronics of various types, and reflect Shim’s own genre-challenging, eclectic engagement with new music.

The opening track, composer Eli Fieldsteel’s Fractus III Aerophoneme for flute and live electronics, is the one piece not written specifically for Shim. Nevertheless, from its stark first notes, whose breathy timbre and microtonality are somehow reminiscent of the shakuhachi, she makes it her own through a forceful, momentum-gathering interpretation enhanced by the electronics’ computer-generated sonic shadows. Here as in other pieces, Shim shows an affinity for lyrical playing that recalls folksong in its phrasing and hinted-at modality.

Other highlights include Huge Blank Canvas Neck Tattoo, Gregory C. Brown’s work for alto flute and Ableton Live loops. Here the interaction between Shim’s live and sampled lines builds up a cumulative, rhythmically-informed structure that at times takes on the appearance of a kind of virtual chamber ensemble. Douglas Laustsen’s 60.8% for bass flute and electronics was written during the lead-up to the 2014 elections in Greece. Explicitly referring to events outside of itself, the work is concerned with Greek travails and resilience in recent and historical form: The title represents the highest unemployment rate for Greek youth during the country’s recent economic crises, while the musical substance was inspired by rebetiko, a kind of Greek urban folk song of hardship and resistance that flourished during the first third of the last century. Shim’s performance evokes the grain of the human voice, while the modal, microtonally-informed melody and asymmetrical rhythms point to the rebetiko’s deep heritage in Ottoman sources.

The recording also includes two pieces for piano (played by Australian pianist Jacob Abela), flute and electronics: Emma O’Halloran’s aurally sumptuous Penciled Wings and Isaac Schankler’s Pheromone, in which overlaid flute and piano chase their own echoes in a decelerating game of aural tag. The closing track, the brief Etude for contrabass flute and T183+ calculator by Matthew Joseph Payne, is a good-natured, propulsive piece that allows Shim to riff like a bass guitar in a stylized funk-rock band.

Daniel Barbiero


International Contemporary Ensemble Upcoming Shows

From the International Contemporary Ensemble:

Friday, December 11, 2009, 7:30pm
ICE @ MoCP II: Wired/Lowfirm
Claire Chase and Eric Lamb, Flutes
Campbell MacDonald and Joshua Rubin, Bass Clarinets

Museum of Contemporary Photography
600 S. Michigan Ave.

The electrifying flute duo Wired and the bassy clarinet duo Lowfirm face-off in a concert featuring a precision display of woodwind acrobatics. Music by Steve Reich, Philippe Hurel, and Felipe Lara, with premieres of new works by Pablo Chin, Marcos Balter and Ryan Ingebritsen.

Pablo Chin: Como la leyenda de Ixquiq for two flutes (2009) WORLD PREMIERE
Felipe Lara: Vocalise for two bass clarinets (2007)
Marcos Balter: Edgewater for bass flute and alto flute (2009) WORLD PREMIERE
John Zorn: Sortilege for two bass clarinets (2001)
Ryan Ingebritsen: Residence on Earth Part 1 : El Gran Océano for two flutes and two bass clarinets, with electronics (2009) WORLD PREMIERE

Sunday, December 13, 7 pm
Transfigured Bach
Daniel Lippel, guitar
with Claire Chase, flute

St. Paul’s Chapel
2335 N. Orchard
Chicago, IL

Join ICE’s sensational guitarist Daniel Lippel for a concert of music by ICE’s favorite avant-garde composer, J.S. Bach. Transcribing Bach’s music for guitar is always a delicate process, but one that affords us the chance to hear the works in a new light.

Partita in B minor (orig. violin), BWV 1002
Sonata for Flute and Guitar in E major (orig. flute and harpsichord), BWV 1034; featuring Claire Chase, flute
Lute Suite #3 in A minor, BWV 998

Monday, December 14, 7:30pm
ICE @ the Southern Theater
Claire Chase and Eric Lamb, Flutes
Campbell MacDonald and Joshua Rubin, Bass clarinets

The Southern Theater
1420 Washington Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN

ICE makes its Southern Theater debut with two woodwind duos in works by Steve Reich, John Zorn, Philippe Hurel, and a world premiere by Minneapolis native Ryan Ingebritsen. A “powerhouse of new-music programming” (The New Yorker), ICE brings its tight-knit virtuosity, youthful intensity and emotional chemistry to the Southern stage for an adventurous program sure to melt the coldest of winter hearts.

Steve Reich: Vermont Counterpoint for flute and tape (1982)
Felipe Lara: Vocalise for two bass clarinets (2008)
Philippe Hurel: Loops III for two flutes (2001)
Steve Reich: New York Counterpoint for two clarinets and tape (1985)
Marcos Balter: Edgewater for bass flute and alto flute (2009) WORLD PREMIERE
John Zorn: sortilege for two bass clarinets (2001)
Ryan Ingebritsen: Residence on Earth Part 1 : El Gran Océano for two flutes and two bass clarinets, with electronics (2009) WORLD PREMIERE

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Emily Hay Live in July

From Emily Hay:

Saturday, July 11, 2009 8:00pm at Cafe Metropol
923 E. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013
MOTOKO HONDA (piano, hammond organ)with EMILY HAY (flutes, vocals,
electronics), MATT PIPER (computers, keybards) and KAI KUROSAWA (warr

Sunday, July 12, 2009 9:00PM at Echo Curio
1519 Sunset Boulevard, Echo Park, CA 90026
EMILY HAY (flutes vocals and electronics) and FRIENDS (tba)
ANNA HOMLER (voice, toys, sound art) and FRIENDS (tba)

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Sonomu Reviews

From Sonomu:

itsnotyouitsme, Walled Gardens (New Amsterdam)
Take two perfectly lovely voices each abandoning their respective egos to harmonize and therewith, you have something greater – listen to Simon & Garfunkel. A duet allows for thoughts developed individually to immediately be responded to, expanding upon and improved. Walled Gardens is essentially a… [read]
Posted by Stephen Fruitman at 08:28, 30 Mar 2009

Isnaj Dui, Patterns in Rocks (FBox Records)
Katie English studied flute at the conservatory, electroacoustic music under renowned English performer Philip Waschmann, and gamelan on her own, all of which certainly resonate in her compositions. Given the album title and names of several of the eight cuts, you´d expect a heavier, denser sound,… [read]
Posted by Stephen Fruitman at 08:23, 30 Mar 2009

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