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PATRIC STANDFORD listens to recent music for solo flutes, played by Nancy Ruffer

Metier    MSV CD92063

Multiplicities. Nancy Ruffer. © 2003 Metier Sound and Vision

The American born Nancy Ruffer has achieved an unrivalled reputation for championing new music and encouraging composers to explore the broadest possible range of technical experiment with the flute family. She has remained in London ever since her post-graduate study days at the Royal Academy in the late seventies, and has worked with ensembles specialising in contemporary exploration, ensembles like Matrix, the Almeida, Apartment House and Topologies.

It is no surprise then that she can find over an hour of new flute music for her solo CD, which is an impressive tour-de-force. The wise listener will no doubt dip into this anthology rather than listen non-stop, for continuous play-through may be too confined; there is a limit to how much contrast in musical material this succession of 'bird-song' can produce.

Brian Ferneyhough starts at the top with his Superscriptio and remains up there exploring predominantly the high register. James Dillon is represented with two pieces, one the substantial Sgothan, twenty four short episodes which merge into 'a polyphony of clouds', and the brief Diffraction. Jason Eckhardt, a New York composer, has devised Multiplicities an attractive flow of gentle lines with staccato punctuations.

Michael Parkin's Elegy [listen -- track 8, 4:10-5:15] has a strong oriental atmosphere and introduces some vocalization counterpoint, and Chris Dench involves multiphonics in his wide ranging and flamboyant Caught breath of time, a piece specially written for Nancy Ruffer. Michael Finnissy attempts to capture his exploration of Australian Aboriginal culture in Ulpirra, a quiet and atmospherically haunting piece for alto flute. Maïastra, written by Simon Holt in 1981, is a large mythical bird, a sculpture by Brancusi, and this ten minute piece takes flight impressively, leaping in sweeping arcs through space. There is a short piece by Henry Cowell too, musical explorer and friend of Charles Ives. The Universal Flute [listen -- track 3, 1:50-3:15] with characteristic Eastern influence, was originally written for shakuhachi.

Copyright © 25 October 2003 Patric Standford, Wakefield, UK


Multiplicities - Music for flute - Nancy Ruffer

MSV CD92063 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 64'56" 2003 Metier Sound and Vision

Nancy Ruffer, flutes

Brian Ferneyhough: Superscriptio; Jason Eckardt: Multiplicities; Henry Cowell: The Universal Flute; James Dillon: Sgothan; Chris Dench: Caught Breath of Time; James Dillon: Diffraction; Michael Finnissy: Ulpirra; Michael Parkin: Elegy; Simon Holt: Maïastra









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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Saturday series of shorter CD reviews