Of course it is in the listening that everything takes form. So it is, very noticeably so, with this album. The deep impression one gets immediately is what a remarkable flautist is Sarah Frisof. She has a markedly sweet and musical tone, considerable agility and a sure and poetic sense of phrasing. Pianist Daniel Pesca has interpretive talent in his own way, plus too a personal commitment to sounding his part with care and imagination. In tandem the two together approach every work with a fresh start and a feel for the individuality of each piece. Hannah Collins fits right in too, quite impressively, on the Saariaho work she participates in.
And that strength of individual performance character ideally suits the wide-ranging program, spanning from Clara Schumann's expressively intimate "Three Romances" of 1853 through to Shulamit Ran's now-ish 2014 "Birds of Paradise."
The opening "Alma" (2007) by Tania Leon brilliantly manages to bring an opening and closing New Music representation of wind chimes to a virtuoso array of kaleidoscopic middle sections of great spirit, one passage sounding especially, pronouncedly Cuban-Latin-New Music fused. It is all a delight.
Clara's "Romances" follows, giving us a ravishingly contrasting lyrical tenderness and some soaring flute-piano interplay. Sarah's flute literally glows with warmth here and we feel the inventive period talent of Ms. Schumann fully and happily.
Amy Williams contrasts the above with the eleven movement, very boldly New Music work "First Lines." It gives us fascinatingly vivid and ornately varying sound-color miniatures with a great deal of panache.
The gone-much-too-soon Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) appears before us with the brightly beautiful brief and Impressionistic gems "Nocturne" and "D'un matin de printemps," played with lovely care. Just these alone make all worthwhile.
Next we get the spacefully sonic trio for flute, cello and piano, the 1998 "Cendres" by Kaija Saariaho. It bursts forward with a marvelously evocative quality, suggesting and making present landscapes that burst forward for miles and must be taken in with their many imaginative musical motions. Marvelous.
The finale in "Birds of Paradise" brings to us the immediacy of the last decade (2014) and Shulamit Ran's energetically dynamic, deeply contemplative, probing music.
So we end where we began, roughly in the present, having traversed the now and the then with some excellent music by women composers of real stature, played with exceptional poise by Sarah Frisof, Daniel Pesca and Hannah Collins. Strongly recommended for anyone who loves the flute and is open to great chamber music by women past and present. Bravo!