Thursday, July 24, 2014
Susan Rotholz's American Tapestry of Flute Duos
Duos for Flute and Piano
Susan Rotholz, flute; Margaret Kampmeier, piano
The album is titled "American Tapestry," but it's no crazy quilt. The four duos for flute and piano Susan Rotholz and Margaret Kampmeier perform fit nicely together. All are tonal after a fashion, giving the program coherence; and yet each differ in character to give the listener real variety.
Robert Beaser takes a simple theme and lets it logically unfold with his "Variations for flute and Piano." Some of the harmonies have an open quality to them, which makes the Variations a nice lead-in to Aaron Copland's "Duo for Flute and Piano." This 1971 work has the wide open sound of Copland's Americana works.
Robert Muczynski's "Sonata for Flute and Piano" also fits well. to my ears, the work has a Ravel/Debussy quality to it, with a hint of Samuel Barber. That's not a bad combination, and one that makes for an attractive and enjoyable work. The album concludes with Lowell Liebermann's "Sonata for Flute and Piano," and almost seems like a further development of Muczynski's work. Liebermann's piece is just as artfully constructed, with melodies that can only be described as beautiful.
Rotholz plays with a clear tone that's never out of control. Even when the music takes the flute into the extreme upper register, the sound gets brighter but never shrill. The recording is also well-balanced. Both flute and piano are on par with each other and sitting comfortably in the soundfield; close enough to hear all the detail, without capturing any harshness.