Despite all that has been going on in Italy with the “shelter in place” imperatives as a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic, I was stunned to receive two reviews from Luciano Feliciani and Filippo Focosi. I’m so incredibly grateful, of course, but more than that, I’m inspired by these writers who continue with their incredibly generous work featuring other artists. I’ve included translations of the reviews below, if it might be helpful.
George Crumb, one of the most important composers on the American contemporary scene, opens this interesting CD with his original composition VOX BALENAE. Inspired by the fascinating and enchanting song of the whales, the song is written for three ‘masked’ performers engaged respectively in the electronic flute, electronic cello and electronic piano. An abstract, ethereal and floating work, just like whales suspended in the ocean, full of effects that imitate now the hiss of their voice, now the song of the seagulls, reproducing in the background a liquid and changeable atmosphere that tells the marine abysses. Starting from a main theme, the author composes five complex variations on it, then returns to the final epilogue by re-presenting the initial melody. The other compositions presented in this work are, each for its own peculiarity, equally interesting and of remarkable workmanship. BENCHARONG by Narong Prangcharoen, for example, musically describes in a very original way the decorations of the typical Thai porcelain vases starting from the beautiful basic colors that compose them. SILVER DAGGER by Stacy Garrop, develops in a contemporary and eclectic way a sweet folksong of the Appalachian mountains, while MELODIES FOR ROBERT by Carter Pann is an intimate song dedicated to the memory of Robert Vincent Jones, musician and war hero. The quality of execution and interpretation by the Heare Ensemble is truly remarkable and gives a special and intense touch to all the compositions.
The flutist Jennie Oh Brown returns to record for Innova Recordings, accompanied by the pianist and composer Carter Pann, performing works by the same Pann together with works by four composers. These are pages that in many cases put a strain on musicians, and especially the flutist, for the extraordinary level of virtuosity required; a virtuosity, it must be said, never an end in itself, being instead functional to the narrative plots underlying the dynamics of each piece. If some compositions are distinguished by their brilliance and rhythmic flexibility, sometimes influenced by the syncopated figurations typical of jazz (this is the case of S. Ran, V. Coleman, C. Pann), in others it emerges in the foreground a pronounced lyricism , which never gives in to sentimentalism (Pann’s Melodies for Robert, the piece by A. Read Thomas where the piano is replaced by a string [quartet]), and which sometimes feeds on folk inspirations (Amazing Grace by Misook Kim) . Although the dialogue between the instruments is always intense, dense, when not enhanced by the complex scores of the authors, in the song that gives the title to the CD, Giantess still signed by Carter Pann, there is a sort of challenge between the mighty chord passages of the piano and the rhapsodic peregrinations of the flute; a duel in which, once more, the extraordinary performers emerge from the winners, called to explore a variety of timbres and registers with apparent, and admirable, ease.