Jinju - Laura Larson Flute CD Cover

About the Music:

Tracks 1-3 were recorded from a live performance on September 30, 2012 at Wayne State University’s Schaver Recital Hall; Tom Court, recording engineer; Angelina Pashmakova, piano.

Walter Gieseking ( 1895-1956)was primarily known  in his day as a phenomenal pianist.   He had an amazing technique and could memorize an entire concerto in one day only by studying the score - without touching a piano.  He recorded a wide repertoire but was especially known for his interpretation of the French Impressionists, Debussy and Ravel.  As a composer, he was virtually unknown during his lifetime. 

The first time I heard the Gieseking Sonatina was at a master class with Geoffrey Gilbert, a former teacher and mentor.  It was one of his favorite pieces.  I had the occasion to play it with Angelina for Chamber Music at the Scarab Club concert series and fell in love with the piece and performing with Angelina at the same time.  We agreed that we wanted to play it again and that was the impetus for the recital from which this recording was taken.  I hope to collaborate with Angelina again as we both find it to be a mutually rewarding partnership.

Track 4, again with Angelina Pashmakova, Orientale (1930) was taken from our contribution to a recording of the music of Jacques de la Presle (1888-1969) on a French label, Polymnie; www.polymnie.net.  Recorded in 2006 in the home of recording engineer Joseph LaQuiere and under the artistic direction of Nadine Deleury, this lovely interlude was recorded on the first take. 
Although he is not as well-known as many of his French contemporaries, de la Presle’s music is elegant, sensitive and poetic and deserves a wider audience.  Flutists will be interested to know that he was a friend of Paul Taffanel, who encouraged him to attend the Paris Conservatoire.

Tracks 5-9 were recorded in 1990 at Kasteel Batavia in Grosse Pointe, Michigan by Larson/Allvin Flute and Harp Duo.  Kerstin brought her microphones and recording equipment and we recorded our New York program from Weill Recital Hall.  The natural acoustics in the beautiful home of Dr. and Mrs. Lie on Lake St. Clair were warm and resonant.  We would like to thank them again for their generosity in allowing us to use their home for our recording project.

Track 5 Jinju, a work for solo flute by Ichiro Higo (b. 1940), was commissioned while I was in Japan in 1987 and subsequently recorded in 1990. After a year studying Suzuki Method in Matsumoto, I wanted to bring home a piece written for me by a Japanese composer and this was the result.  I performed it many times with Larson/Allvin and at a National Flute Association convention in 1990?

In the composer’s words, “The meaning of Jinju is generally ‘magic spell’ or ‘incantation.’  In ancient Japan, musical instruments were used for incantation and not for music.  The image is of a beautiful maiden (Shaman) playing the flute . . . she looks like a mysterious magician being surrounded by spiritual blue death-fire, expressing her sense of longing and wishing for her life to fade into nothingness.”  The music truly expresses these sentiments and is an arduous trial for the flutist to play.  After working up to a fever pitch which sounds like the end of the piece, there is an epilogue of quiet sorrow as the soul tries to leave the body and life wanes with the expiration of the final note.  I have to be in good physical condition to play this piece; the pacing of the breathing and the relentless building to the climax require great stamina.

Track 6-7 Autumn Fantasy by Minoru Miki (1930-2011) was originally written for the traditional Japanese instruments, shakuhachi and koto.  After hearing it performed, Kerstin Allvin and I arranged it for flute and harp and had the opportunity to play it for the composer while on tour in Japan.  We have aspired to retain some of the stylistic techniques of the original instruments in this lush romantic work by one of Japan’s most revered composers.

Track 8 Casilda Fantasy by flutist, Franz Doppler (1821-1883) and harpist, Antonio Zamara (1829-1901) is in the style of 19th Century salon music, a fantasy on themes from the forgotten opera, Casilda by Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg.  Flutists know Doppler primarily for his popular showpiece, Hungarian Pastorale Fantasy and his many flute duets which he performed with his brother, Karl.  Antonio Zamara was from a family of harpists and taught at the Vienna Conservatory with Doppler.  The result of their collaboration is a stunning tour de force which flute and harp duos the world over love to play.

Track 9 Detours by Michigan composer, James Hartway (b. 1944), was commissioned by Larson/Allvin Flute and Harp Duo for our tour of Japan and China in 1988.  The three-movement work was premiered in Japan at a concert inaugurating a cultural exchange between the Sister Cities of Detroit and Toyota City.  I have included the first movement, ‘you turn’ from our world premier recording, on this CD.  Kerstin and I have performed this piece perhaps more than any other and it never ceases to be a challenge!  It also never ceases to be a joy to perform. 

The entire piece can be heard on two of James Hartway’s CDs.  Please visit his website to hear more of his music and read about his illustrious career at www.jameshartway.com.   Kerstin has also recorded many fine CDs of harp music, including her own compositions, available on CD Baby and on her website at www.kerstinallvin.com.

Tracks 10-16 were recorded by the Contemporary Baroque Trio for the album, “From Bach to Bolling” in 1981 at University Baptist Church in Coral Gables, Florida on analog tape; Peter McGrath, recording engineer.  It was a great honor to have had the opportunity to perform with such wonderful musicians as Valrie Marks Kantorski  (piano) and Lucas Drew (double bass), who comprise the other two-thirds of the trio.  The CBT had its roots in Miami, Florida when we were all involved with the University of Miami and/or the Miami Philharmonic.  The original idea for the formation of the group was to play Baroque music on modern instruments, but it evolved to include transcriptions of all genres and periods of music.  The CBT was active on the performing arts scene in South Florida in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, performed at Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City in 1980 and in Salzburg, Austria during the 1979 Salzburg Music Festival.  The tracks heard on this CD are a sampling of our work.