August 2014 Convention
Chicago, IL

Premieres and Commissions #2

It is always a pleasure to attend concerts at which the performers are excellent flutists playing interesting music with accomplished collaborators. Nicole Riner started off with Fl. . . for flute and piano by Jason Barabba. Riner commissioned the work, which is comprised of seven short movements, each of which has a title beginning with the letters “fl.” The interesting piece appears to be challenging, but was effectively performed. The pianist, Patty Ladpli, was unfortunately not listed in the program.

California-based Duo Daru, with flutist Keren Schweitzer and cellist Jason Lippmann, played Ivan Jevtic’s piece Musica per Due. This work would be a great project to include in a recital program. In this performance, the effective writing combined with the instrumentalists’ playing resulted in rich, warm colors. The piece featured many moments of soaring melody, but had some percussive and rhythmic gestures interspersed. (The program did not include the movments of this multimovement work.)

Zart Dombourian-Eby, piccolo, and Valerie Muzzolini Gordon, harp, performed two selections. The first was the 2014 Piccolo Artist Competition commission, Two Pieces for piccolo and harp by Michael Gandolfi. For the actual competition, participants played a version for piccolo and piano, but the piece was more effective in its original form calling for the harp. The first movement is a truly beautiful piece of music, highlighted by Zart Dombourian-Eby’s sweet, soaring sound. The second is peppy, cute, and suitably piccolo-oriented. The performers finished with the Night Club 1960 movement from Astor Piazzolla’s Histoire du Tango. This movement seemed idiomatic for piccolo and harp, and the performance was engaging.

Los Angeles Philharmonic flutist Catherine Ransom Karoly performed the 2014 Young Artist Competition commissioned, Bâtiment/debris by Marcos Balter. The piece was interesting and well executed by both flutist and pianist. There was a lot of imitation, perhaps similar to that in Messiaen’s Le Merle Noir. Ransom Karoly’s resonant, colorful sound highlighted the possibilities in the piece, and she effectively met the challenges presented by the composer.

The concert finished with two more groups. Jill Heyboer, flute, and Theresa Delaplain, oboe, were joined at the piano by composer Robert Mueller. His Deserted Pathways highlights a journey through music, and he forewarned the audience that it might not reach the destination desired. The concert closed with hybrid arts ensemble The Fourth Wall, with flutist Hilary Abigana; C. Neil Parsons, bass trombone; and Greg Jukes, percussion (and accordion). The group played excerpts from three of their commissions to show the audience the way they combine movement, theater, and music, and how composers have dealt with writing for their eclectic group.

—Rebecca Johnson