Heidi Álvarez – Flute Chamber Works by Michael Kallstrom, Volume 2

alvarezFlute Chamber Works by Michael Kallstrom, Volume 2
, performed by Heidi Pintner Álvarez and friends
Centaur Records

In the Clear Blue for two flutes and piano (2011)
Silken Kisses Slip Away for mezzo-soprano, flute, and piano (2011)
I. Silken kisses slip away
  II. Open mind and open aches
  III. Changing tides and slipping light
The Music Falls In for flute and mixed percussion (2009)
The Falling Cinders of Time for solo flute (2011)
Ozymandias for flute, oboe, bass voice, and electronics (2006)
On the Brink of Stillness for flute, violin, and piano (2009)
I. Moderato
  II. Allegro

In this follow up to her 2006 album, Heidi Pintner Álvarez, flute professor at Western Kentucky University, again joins her colleagues in performing a collection of music by Michael Kallstrom, University Distinguished Professor at Western Kentucky University. Featured on this album are works for flute and various chamber ensembles, including mezzo-soprano, piano, mixed percussion, oboe, bass voice, electronics, and violin. Álvarez plays with a rich sound and gives a sensitive, artistic interpretation of each work included in this collection. It is interesting to note that many of these works are based on poetry written by Kallstrom.

In the Clear Blue is a striking opening work. It is written for two flutes and piano. Kathleen Karr joins Álvarez on flute and Donald Speer is the pianist. This work features considerable rhythmic vitality, which is a hallmark of Kallstrom’s compositional style. Sections of homorhythmic playing between the two flutes are attention-grabbing and interesting.

The chamber ensemble changes for Silken Kisses Slip Away, the next work on this album. Álvarez is joined by mezzo-soprano Liza Kelly and pianist Speer. The text for each of the three movements is based on poetry by Kallstrom. Particularly noticeable is when Álvarez doubles Kelly’s vocal line, especially in the haunting second movement; the combination of the bright flute timbre with the warm voice is a remarkable sound.

The Music Falls In is written for flute and mixed percussion. Mark Berry plays a variety of instruments here including vibraphone, maracas, glockenspiel, and congas. This work has a clean, bright sound and sounds fresh even after multiple hearings.

The Falling Cinders of Time is written for solo flute and shows off Álvarez’s sensitive playing. She uses a variety of tone colors to illustrate the contrasting sections; it is interesting to note that Kallstrom quotes a Rachmaninov melody in this work.

The next work, Ozymandias, includes an innovative combination of instruments, including flute, oboe, bass voice, and electronics. Álvarez is joined by Kristin Polk on oboe and Kallstrom on vocals. The recorded voice part, which begins the work and is digitally manipulated, is almost drone like.

The final work on this album is On the Brink of Stillness for flute, violin, and piano. The first movement is lyrical and moderately paced. Álvarez and violinist Ching-Yi Lin have lines together but also have portions that sound more conversational. Those lines wrap around each other in interesting ways. The second movement is more aggressive. The piano line drives the sound; the entire movement is rhythmically vibrant and demands virtuosic playing from all.

This review was originally published in the November issue of The Flute View magazine. Subscribe here!

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