Richard Craig is developing a reputation as a leading light in the performance of contemporary music for solo flute. This disc features a series of works, many of which are heard here in their first recording.
Dominik Karski’s Streamforms is a complex piece for bass flute which incorporates percussive sounds and tongue-rams to create a rhythmic groove. This focuses on the physicality of performance and the relationship between the player and the instrument. Using air sounds and a wide variety of contemporary techniques, the music demonstrates the ‘otherworldly’ characteristics of the bass flute and is a feast for the ears.
Brian Ferneyhough’s new complexity style lends itself well to the flute and the instrument’s range of available sounds. Unity Capsule is demanding and displays a full range of sounds throughout its eleven minute duration. The playing here is convincing and one has the sense of Craig’s passion for the music. The phrasing is musical and well communicated, with a good sense of contrast between the different sections. This is a display of excellent technical virtuosity of which Craig deserves to be proud.
L’art de toucher le clavecin, 2 is a work for piccolo and violin by Evan Johnson. It takes its title from Couperin’s seminal score. The connection with Couperin is not clearly evident from hearing the piece, although the programme notes explain the composer’s intention of creating something of an abstract homage, which particularly looks into the use of surface ornamentation. On this level, the connection can be felt, and Johnson creates some fascinating textures between the two instruments. The combination of piccolo and violin is an undoubtedly squeaky one, but is not without its charms.
Malin Bång’s alto flute solo, Alpha Waves uses predominantly air and voice sounds in the opening section to create its distinctive resonance. The piece deals with the sleep cycle, travelling through the stages of the cycle in clearly delineated sections.
Salvatore Sciarrino is perhaps the leader in writing for the intimate complexities of an individual instrument. His works for flute make use of intensely quiet effects, such as whistle tones and air sounds. Venere che le grazie la fioriscono for solo flute has the effect of drawing the listener in, towards what feels like the internal sounds of the instrument. The music becomes gradually more frenzied and there is a sense of an inevitable journey which leads towards the final episode of the piece. This is thoroughly gripping and exciting to listen to, and for me, the highlight of the disc.
John Croft’s …ne l’aura che trema is an atmospheric work for alto flute and electronics. There are some intensely beautiful moments and the electronics are used as an extension of the flute’s sound to create an organic soundscape.
The final work on the disc is Richard Barrett’s Inward for flute and percussion. There is a sense of the exotic here, most notably from the range of percussion used, which includes tabla, temple blocks and a Thai gong. The flute weaves around the percussion with a muted tone colour and the well considered use of a range of contemporary techniques such as whistle tones, tongue-rams and air sounds.
There is no doubt that Richard Craig is a master of contemporary techniques for his instrument. He approaches the avant-garde with an obvious technical control and clear musical understanding, and the music is well communicated. This disc has much to offer in terms of both its repertoire and quality, and there is a pleasing consistency of standards throughout.
“This has got to be one of the coolest things... It’s like having high-quality carol singers round your house. It’s a delightful and atmospheric programme of Christmas music.” (The Chronicle) #Christmas #ChristmasCarols divineartrecords.com…