Alexa Still / Stephen Gosling

Carl Vine: Sonata for Flute

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Australian flutist Alexa Still has assembled a very attractive collection of short contemporary pieces for flute and piano by a wide range of composers. The showcase work is the 1993 Sonata for flute and piano by Still's compatriot Carl Vine. The sonata is an easygoing but substantial work that easily deserves the growing recognition it's receiving among flutists. Vine writes exceptionally well for the flute and fully exploits its virtuosic and expressive possibilities. It's freely tonally based, and it uses its traditional materials in inventive and surprising ways. It has an "American" sound; it's suggestive of wide-open spaces and has the melodic and rhythmic liveliness of some of Steve Reich's most dancing music. Its shimmering slow movement is especially effective. Each of the other pieces is strongly appealing. Ian Clarke's Orange Dawn, inspired by the terrain of East Africa, skillfully makes use of the flute's ability to mimic the sound of folk instruments in evoking the expansive wildness of the landscape. Joseph Schwantner's rhapsodic, gorgeously lyrical Black Anemones; Anne Boyd's haunting, Japanese-tinged Goldfish Through Summer Rain; and Sofia Gubaidulina's nature soundscape, Klänge des Waldes, are among the strongest works on the album. Still coaxes a wide spectrum of colorings from the flute, as is appropriate for the diversity of this collection, and plays with interpretive nuance and bravura assurance. Pianist Stephen Gosling is a strong and sensitive accompanist. Koch's sound is clean and well balanced.

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