DIVERSE VOICES: American Music for Flute ● Linda Chatterton (fl); John Jensen (pn) ● LC8032 (52:19)
L. LIEBERMANN Flute Sonata. COPLAND Duo for Flute and Piano. SIERRA Flute Sonata. SCHOENFIELD Achat Sha’alti. Ufaratsta. E. HILL This Floating World
This is a nicely varied program of American flute music, mostly with piano, available from www.lindachatterton.com. Both flutist and pianist are currently based in the Minneapolis area. In addition to maintaining an active performing schedule, Linda Chatterton offers presentations on the psychology of performance—a subject of growing research interest, as well as practical application. John Jensen is well known as the pianist of the Mirecourt Trio, whose many recordings have drawn attention to some of the masterpieces of the 20th-century piano trio repertoire. Their performances here are very fine, showcasing the music to optimal advantage.
The best-known work on the program is the Duo by Aaron Copland. Dating from 1971, it is one of his last compositions. Over the four decades since then, it has become one of the most often-performed pieces in the flute/piano repertoire. It is an unpretentious piece in three movements, less than 15 minutes in duration. Easily identifiable as a work of Copland, it recalls many of the stylistic features familiar from his most popular compositions, shaped in a pleasing, satisfying manner.
Almost as popular as the Copland is the 1987 Sonata for Flute and Piano by Lowell Liebermann, one of the most successful of today’s composers who adhere to a traditional tonal language. Like much of his music, the Flute Sonata exudes the vague aroma of Prokofiev, but not so much as to be distracting. The first of its two movements is slow, rhapsodic, and quite deeply expressive. The second movement, about one-third the duration of the first, is a light-hearted romp.
Now in his late 50s, Puerto Rico-born Roberto Sierra is another of today’s more frequently-performed composers. The recently-released Naxos recording of his three symphonies conveys the impression that much of his music embraces aspects of Latin-American ethnic styles, sometimes in a more populist vein, at others in a more abstract, rarefied fashion. The three-movement Flute Sonata of 2003 falls into the latter category, the Hispanic elements only coming obviously to the fore in the final movement.
Edie Hill was born in New York City in 1962, but studied with Lloyd Ultan and Libby Larsen in Minnesota, where she is currently based. This Floating World for unaccompanied flute comprises musical commentaries on five haiku by Basho. Unaccompanied—or barely accompanied—flute seems to be a frequent recourse for composers seeking to capture a spare, Japanese flavor. Listeners whose experience confirms this observation will know what to expect here. Hill’s effort is imaginative, evocative, and uses the instrument effectively, including a few unconventional usages. Nothing about it is ugly or unpleasant, but nothing is especially striking either.
The two short pieces by Paul Schoenfield are arrangements derived from improvisations on Chassidic melodies. They are pleasant examples, heard here in tasteful settings.