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Twentieth Century Music for solo flutes
Mario Caroli, Nancy Ruffer and Doina Rotaru's Magic Flutes

Mario Caroli restricts himself to his "Muramatsu Gold Flute 9KCC Heavy, n°50857" for his first solo CD, as he did when first encountered in Strasbourg, exploring 'cutting edge' writing for the instrument. Ferneyhough and Dillon feature here too, but the only actual duplication is of Dillon's Sgothan. I leave it to flautists to make comparisons.

It was SvaNa's first CD, one offered with an extraordinarily comprehensive and elegant presentation - all the information and background one could possibly want plus, on their website, full texts, an evocative selection of recording photos and high-quality sound samples.

The link below takes you to my first review of him.

Mario Caroli - 20th Century Music for solo flute [2000, 76 mins]
Salvatore Sciarrino - "Hermes" (1984)
James Dillon - "Sgothan" (1984) è
Jesus Rueda - "Suspiria" (1988)
Isang Yun - "Sori" (1988)
Gyorgy Kurtag - "Doloroso" (1992)
Stefano Gervasoni - "Ravine" (2000)
Brian Ferneyhough - "Carceri d'Invenzione IIb" (1984)
Claude Debussy - "Syrinx" (1913)

SvaNa SVN001 *****

Mario Caroli
also has Sciarrino's complete music for solo flute, on Stradivarius STR 33598/33599, recorded on two CDs in association with the composer. Well done, as I should expect, but rather rarified and esoteric, and not to everyone's taste. Excerpts can be heard on line at Amazon UK's website.

Mario Caroli's most recent CD [Stradivarius STR 33711] recorded 2005, brings him back into mainstream repertoire with a fine disc of the flute music of Andre Jolivet, one of the most renowned composers for the instrument.

It includes the lesser known Sonata and Ascèses, as well as the famous Incantations and Chant de Linos, partnered by a sympathetic pianist Silva Costanzo, and recorded admirably by Andrea Dandolo for Stradivarius. An unreserved recommendation for flute collectors.

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NANCY RUFFER (flutes) Multiplicities

BRIAN FERNEYHOUGH Superscriptio (1981)
JASON ECKARDT Multiplicities (1993)
HENRY COWELL The Universal Flute (1940)
JAMES DILLON Sgothan (1984) & Diffraction (1984)
CHRIS DENCH Caught Breath of Time (1981)
SIMON HOLT Maiastra (1981)

METIER MSV CD92063 [2001, 65 mins]

I first became aware of the potential of the modern flute through hearing the pioneering Pierre-Yves Artaud, to whom Nancy Ruffer, stalwart of the Almeida Festival from its earliest days, has dedicated her first solo CD. It is a splendid and varied collection to display her instrument and the virtuosity now demanded of flautists. Nancy Ruffer introduces variety in the programme with different instruments, high and low, but these are not listed. I enjoyed the cover picture (Franz von Stuck, Munich) which appears to show Pan suffering from the New Music produced by his young offspring?

There is a good deal to be said for tackling the problems confronting listeners to some of those modern composers who tend to overload their music with layers of counterpoint, through their response to the challenge of a single line. (Oliver Knussen, in a fascinating interview with Henze on DVD, was asked which parts in a congested score he should bring out; the composer answered "I love them all"!)

This is a fine celebration of transcendental contemporary flute playing, by one of the most renowned practitioners in any advanced idiom which happens to be thrown at her. The notes (unsigned) are variable so, to augment the factual information supplied I have surfed the web and come up with some links which have been added above; I hope these will broaden your reading as pleasurably as it did mine!

Henry Cowell's The Universal Flute, so I learnt, "marks the dawn of Western music for shakuhachi - - a man named K. Tamada ran a roadside fruit stand in Cowell's neighborhood, and - - played shakuhachi" - but I found conflicting accounts of its origins.

For the intoxic

For Ferneyhough's flute music, there is an extremely interesting and detailed essay by Helen Bledsoe on how to tackle the playing of music of such mind-boggling complexity as his Superscriptio for solo piccolo. Brian Ferneyhough himself writes about it: " - - I attempted to suggest the fleeting sketching-in of the brittle outline, the trace without dimensions representing some ultimate 'inside of the outside', itself never to be captured in sound." I doubt whether those his words (or mine) can substitute for actual listening, which is less daunting than many may expect.

James Dillon's quarter-hour Sgothan has "24 short sections, each comprised of a predetermined number of sub-units, which are interlaced according to combination/re­combination rules - - then diffracted, variegated and stratified to form a polyphony of clouds". The figuration of his Diffraction, an attractive shorter piccolo piece of the same year, "will 'bend' or 'spread' as it touches a pre-determined frequency margin - in this case a low piccolo F - with the resultant emanation of an 'interference spectrum'".

Michael Finnissy's Ulpirra reflects on "research into Australian Aboriginal culture - - a solo 'tribute' to [Nancy Ruffer's] wonderfully sensitive artistry was long overdue." Chris Dench (b. 1953) composed Caught Breath of Time for Nancy Ruffer in 1981. There is CD of Dench's music for flute (Laura Chislett - Etcetera). Simon Holt's Maiastra refers to a large mythical bird and is the name of a sculpture by Brancusi. Michael Parkin's alto flute piece Elegy (1984), dedicated to Nancy Ruffer, came as a direct response to African music and was one of only two British works selected for the 1984 Gaudeamus International Musicweek in the Netherlands.

Jason Eckardt (b. 1971) lives in New York City. His title Multiplicities (chosen by Metier for the whole CD) refers to the work's "multiple, simultaneous melodic projections". I show an excerpt of the score of this title piece which gives a good idea of the sort of music you will hear if you invest in Nancy Ruffer's recital (or Mario Caroli's, q.v. below).

Nancy Ruffer introduces variety in the programme with different instruments, high and low, but these are not specified.

ating sound of multiple flutes, encountered in Luxembourg, hear Pierre-Yves Artaud in the Romanian composer Doina Rotaru's Concerto No 4 for flute & flutes orchestra on a magical CD of her flute compositions produced by Romanian Radio Broadcasting Corporation DRCD-1001.

Peter Grahame Woolf

and see also http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2000/aug00/rotaru.htm


Mario Caroli Photo: Marthe Lamelle