Flute Vox – CD Review

Artist/s:  Laura Chislett (flute); Stephanie McCallum (piano); Thomas Jones (violin)

Category:  Classical, New Music

Label:   ABC Classics

Reviewed by Karen Anne Lonsdale


Flute Vox is a compilation of concert works for flute, alto flute, bass flute and piccolo, featuring Laura Chislett, one of Australia’s foremost interpreters of contemporary flute music.  The Latin word ‘vox’ means ‘voice’ and Laura Chislett named the CD Flute Vox flute-vox“because the project ‘gives voice’ to the flute, showcasing its versatility and expressive potential” in addition to her interest in “the sounds created by simultaneous singing and playing on the flute”. The title also reflects Chislett’s acknowledgement of two works which are included on the CD:  Vox Box for amplified bass flute by Australian composer Mark Zadro, as well as Voice for solo flute by the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu.   The range of repertoire on the two CDs spans several decades from Edgard Varèse’s Density 21.5 (1936; revised 1946) to Michael Smetanin’s Backbone: for solo flute and multi-tracked fixed media sound (2015).  

The CD set features flute pieces by numerous prominent Australian composers including Julian Yu, Michael Smetanin, Katia Tiutiunnik, Mark Zadro, Brett Dean, Rosalind Page, Elena Kats-Chernin.  The compilation also includes a solo piano work, Four Episodes for Piano (2010) by Gerald Glynn performed by the distinguished Australian pianist Stephanie McCallum.

Chislett demonstrates her excellent command of a range of extended flute techniques in Toru Takemitsu’s Voice for solo flute (1971), Mark Zadro’s Vox Box for amplified bass flute (2001), Rosalind Page’s Courbe dominante (2006) for flute with pre-recorded sound, and Brett Dean’s Demons for solo flute (2004).  The technical agility and bird-like characteristics of the flute, have inspired other works in this compilation, including English composer Edward Cowie in his A Charm of Australian Finches for flute and piano (1993), as well as Julian Yu’s Sonata for Flute and Piano (2004).

Contrasting the technical feats required in these works is the exquisite lyricism heard in the Persian Suite (2002) for flute and piano by composer Reza Vali.   The suite is the twelfth set of Persian folk songs written by Vali who was born in Persia (Iran), and is now based in the USA.

Chislett plays with warmth and expressivity in the hauntingly beautiful melodies in Blue Silence (2006) by Elena Kats-Chernin and The Quickening: A Tribute to Jonathon Kramer for flute and piano (2005) by Katia Tiutiunnik.  Chislett is joined by her husband, violinist Thomas Jones in a soulful performance of Kats-Chernin’s Wedding Suite (1996) for flute and violin, which was composed for the couple’s wedding day.

Flute enthusiasts are sure to enjoy this eclectic selection of concert pieces, as well as the superb playing by all of the artists on Flute Vox.

Karen Anne Lonsdale

7 May 2016


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Where Everything is Music – Reza Vali

Where Everything is Music – Reza Vali

Tuesday 19 June 2012, 7pm

The Goethe-Institut Sydney

Review by Angus McPherson


(Originally published by The NSW Flute Society Blog in June 2012 and published on Flute Tutor Australia at the request of the NSW Flute Society in February 2014)


Tuesday night’s lecture and concert with Reza Vali provided a fascinating insight into the composer’s work and music. The evening began with a lecture by Vali discussing his musical development and the different periods in his compositional career. Although Vali’s musical training was in Western art music, he has always been passionate about Persian folk music and more recently has become interested in Iranian traditional music. Vali finished the lecture with a recording of a string quartet from his Calligraphy collection, composed in his ‘Post-Western,’ period, in which he used the Iranian modal system rather than the Western system.

In his lecture, Vali described how he began collecting Persian folk songs as a student at the Conservatory of Music in Tehran. In his career as a composer, Vali wrote so many sets of folk songs that he soon ran out of titles for his compositions and was forced to catalogue works by number and letter. Hence the title of the first piece on the program, Persian Suite: Folk Songs Set No. 12 E (2002), performed by Marie Irene Heinrich on flute and David Miller on piano. Originally scored for voice, string quartet and piano, the piece began with an Armenian folk song and ended with a fast, strident dance from Northern Iran.

Song for solo flute (1987), performed by Laura Chislett Jones, used the technique of singing and playing to imitate the sound of the traditional Persian flute, the Ney. According to Vali, the overtones produced by singing and playing create a timbre that is very close to that of the Ney. This technique also allowed Vali to write two different melodic lines, creating a duet between the flute and the voice. Driven by a building tension between two musical styles, Persian folk song and European avant-garde music, this piece reached a dramatic climax during which the voice part was almost a scream.

The evening concluded with the Sydney World Premiere of Vali’s homage to Johannes Brahms, Three Romantic Songs (2011). This piece was written for and dedicated to Vali’s wife, and was performed by Thomas Jones on violin with David Miller once more on piano. The final movement, in 7/8, was described by Vali as a “limping tango” and the composer invited the audience to imagine a corpulent Brahms attempting to dance with Clara Schumann.

All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates
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Matthew Hindson – House Music (Flute Concerto)

A Review by Angus McPherson


SCM Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Imre Palló
Soloist: Alexa Still

Friday 4 May 2012, 6pm
Saturday 5 May 2012, 4pm
Verbrugghen Hall

(Originally published by The NSW Flute Society Blog in May 2012 and published on Flute Tutor Australia at the request of the NSW Flute Society in February 2014)


On Friday night, Alexa Still performed the Australian premiere of Matthew Hindson’s flute concerto, House Music, with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Symphony Orchestra conducted by Imre Palló.

The first movement of the concerto, entitled “Kitchen, Garage, Workshop,” opened dramatically with a strident cacophony of sound from the orchestra before giving way to a virtuosic flute cadenza of extended techniques and high-speed technical passages. The dynamic range of this movement stretched from a ghostly whistle-tone in the cadenza to full orchestral fortissimos and the influence of electronic dance music was clearly apparent in the driving beat of the orchestra. Named for rooms that imply the frequent use of appliances, gadgets and machinery this movement was exciting and dizzyingly frenetic.

“Foyer, Swimming Pool (Interlude),” provided some welcome relief from the frenzied activity of the opening movement. Showcasing the flute and harp, this movement was languid and, at times, almost eerily still. The flute part was full of idyllic melodies adorned with the shimmering and burbling of timbrel trills and smooth, glassy glissandi that Alexa played with a seemingly effortless, fluid grace.

The final movement, “Nursery, Games Room,” saw a return to the upbeat energy and dance influences of the first movement, but this time the music locked into a more playful, repetitive groove. While still fast-paced and virtuosic, the children’s domain seemed to brim with a positive energy, free from the stresses of adult life.

Alexa performed with her usual flair, masterfully executing both the extended techniques and the technical gymnastics that make this piece a formidable and exciting contribution to the flute repertoire. She will be performing House Music again at the Annual Convention of the National Flute Association (USA) in Las Vegas later this year.

All articles and reviews published on this website are representative of the opinions of the author/s alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of FTA or it’s affiliates
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