A well produced and beautifully played CD crossed my desk the other day. ‘Celebrating Women!’ exclaims female excellence in composition, especially as conceived for the flute as a solo instrument.
Canadian flutist Laurel Swinden has compiled a lovely program of wonderful music hitherto unknown to me. In addition to mainstream composers such as Lili Boulanger and Cécile Chaminade, Swinden adds modern exponents of quality flute repertoire such as Katherine Hoover and Canadian Jean Coulthard. Gems can be found from relatively unknown women such as Mel Bonis (1858 - 1937) and Venetian Anna Bon (1740 -1767).
Bonis’ gorgeous Piece for Flute and Bon’s absolutely delightful Sonata in G Major open the program. Flutists should check out the music of Heather Schmidt. Her ‘Chiaroscuro’ from 2000 is a real find and echoes Frank Martin’s seminal flute work, Ballade. Swinden plays it superbly. Australian Anne Boyd’s Bali Moods No. 1 (1987) is also a find for flutists wanting to stretch the standard recital repertoire.
Technically, the program offers few challenges for a flutist as gifted as Swinden, which gives the listener a chance to focus on the beautiful and varied sounds she produces (including on alto flute and bass flute in Katherine Hoover’s wonderful ‘Two for Two’ from 2002). And her very musical phrasing is matched in every turn by longtime collaborator Stephanie Mara, piano.
Recording is top notch. Whether in the dusky low register, vibrant and full middle register or ringing top, the flute sounds are captured in technicolour by engineer Earl McCluskie. And very nice to hear the balance between flute and piano so even and the replicated piano tone/decay given equal billing. Recommended.