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Recording of the month

Consistently musical

RON BIERMAN recommends
Jeffrey Khaner's flute CD on Avie

Avie    AV 0004

American Flute Music © 2002 Jeffrey Khaner

Jeffrey Khaner has been Principle Flute for the Philadelphia Orchestra since 1990 and has had an impressive variety of experience with other first-class orchestras. His technique is marvellous. He uses a fairly wide vibrato with a bright and liquid tone, close to the opposite end of the spectrum from the meaty tone of the better known James Galway. Since I do like Galway's heavier sound in some modern works, there were times when something closer to it might have worked even better here, but there isn't much room for improvement.

Pianist Hugh Sung is a match for Khaner's lead, fully supportive or assertive as required by the music. They perform an outstanding program of six compositions for flute and piano with a well chosen mix of known and unknown 20th Century American composers. The pieces are predominantly romantic in style with an emphasis on attractive, tonal melody. Walter Piston's Sonata of 1930 is ironically both the oldest and among the most modern sounding piece. That's fine with me, though perhaps cautionary for the more exclusively adventurous.

The CD begins with a relatively unknown composer, Eldin Burton. His Sonatina is delightful entertainment. Try this excerpt from the concluding Allegro giocoso quasi fandango [listen -- track 3, 1:34-2:19]. Beryl Rubenstein's Sonata is similarly worth reviving with its cheerful outer sections and melodic middle movement.

Aaron Copland's Duo for Flute and Piano is more serious in tone, though no less tuneful. It reminds me at times of the wistful solo flute in the slow movement of Copland's Third Symphony. Although the Duo was written 25 years later (1971), Copland made use of melodies from a 1940s sketchbook contemporaneous with the Symphony. Both works are in his more popular 'American' style. The Sonata of the other reasonably familiar composer on this disk, Walter Piston, isn't as immediately attractive, but is typically well constructed and rewards repeated listening.

The two other works in the recital are by relatively young composers whose talents are earning them numerous commissions and grants. Jennifer Higdon's Autumn Reflection is appropriately subdued except for a brief outburst representing seasonal colors. As in the more difficult passages from each of the pieces, Khaner makes it sound easy.

Lowell Liebermann generates heights of passion among both fans and detractors. He writes in a highly romantic style immediately attractive to many, but considered trite pandering by many others. I'll tip my hand by recommending his Flute and Piccolo Concertos (try Galway on RCA) as among the best for winds from the last century. The Sonata is in the same style and appears to be entering the standard repertoire. Khaner's version is fully competitive.

I highly recommend this collection. Khaner is a consistently musical virtuoso, and this is an exceptionally strong and enjoyable recital.

Copyright © 1 February 2003 Ron Bierman, San Diego, California, USA


Jeffrey Khaner - american flute music

AV 0004 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 69'49" 2002 Jeffrey Khaner

Jeffrey Khaner, flute; Hugh Sung, piano

Eldin Burton: Sonatina (1947); Aaron Copland: Duo (1971); Walter Piston: Sonata (1930); Beryl Rubinstein: Sonata (1941); Lowell Liebermann: Sonata (1988); Jennifer Higdon: Autumn Reflection (1994)





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