Jinju - Laura Larson Flute CD Cover

February 23, 2014

Added several reviews of Jinju and various performances. Read all about them HERE

Review of Jinju in The Flutist Quarterly, Winter, 2014 (excerpt)
. . .  Walter Gieseking’s Sonatine (1937) is in three movements:  Moderato (beseechingly passionate), Allegretto (presenting the feeling of a lilt with soaring melodies), and Vivace (a humorously exciting celebration of cascading lines).  Jacques de la Presle’s Orientale (1930) wanders through a series of scales, and the tapered last note is simply divine.

The namesake of this CD, Jinju (1987), is a solo flute work by Ichiro Higo.  Jinju means “incantation,” and the liner notes explain that the purpose of ancient Japanese instruments was to create magic spells.  Higo writes that the image for this piece is of a mysterious maiden, surrounded by “blue-death fire,” playing the flute and using the music to express her desire to “fade into nothingness.”This image is also represented on the CD cover art.  The piece begins calmly with periods of sound and silence.  The mood intensifies throughout the piece as the flute explores higher registers.  Musical elements are chosen in ways that cause the flute to sound ancient, and Larson truly captures the image of fading into nothingness as the piece winds down at the end.

There are three works for flute and harp.  Autumn Fantasy (1980) by Minoru Miki was originally written for shakuhachi and koto, but Larson and Allvin arranged it for flute and harp with the composer’s blessing. The first movement creates an alluring sonic landscape.  The harp is impeccably convincing in its ability to sound like a traditional Japanese instrument, and Larson’s flute mimics the shakuhachi splendidly.  The second movement is livelier and has moments of regularity and intensity.  The very end reminded me of a frigid autumn wind.

Subscribers can read the entire review at http://www.nfaonline.org/Publications/The-Flutist-Quarterly/

Review of Jinju in Flute Talk magazine, February, 2014 (excerpt)
This album is a compilation of various recordings that Laura Larson has made over a number of years . . . This eclectic collection of works provides an appealing sojourn through various style periods of flute composition and illustrates Larson’s musical diversity.

Subscribers can read the entire review at http://www.theinstrumentalist.com/FluteTalk/register-user.php

Review of Jinju in the American Record Guide, September/October, 2013
This is a retrospective of the career of Michigan flutist Laura Larson. She gave performances at Weill Recital Hall with a trio in 1980 and with this harpist in 1990. These pieces have been recorded at a variety of times and places from 1981 to a concert in Detroit on September 30, 2012.

Some of these selections have a connection particular to the performers. For example, the Autumn Fantasy by Japanese composer Minoru Miki (1930-2011) was written for two Japanese traditional instruments, shakuhachi and koto. Larson and harpist Kerstin Allvin decided to try it on their classical instruments and then played it for the composer in Japan. The piece involves bending pitches on the harp and steely harp sounds to imitate the koto. The flute part calls for pitch bending, too.

There is just a single movement from the Martinu Trio and Bolling Suite.

Larson plays with a vibrato that tends to be shimmery and shallow, but she plays very well. Her fine command of all registers can be heard in the radiant performance of the Gieseking Sonatine that opens the program. Her collaborators are top-notch.

Album Review By Whitney Reagan Kelley in the American Suzuki Journal, June 24, 2013
"The album title is taken from the work “Jinju,” written by Ichiro Higo, which is featured as a world-premiere recording on the CD. Commissioned during Larson’s study at the Talent Education Research Institute in Japan, “Jinju” is a depiction of incantation and spiritual connection evoked by the flute and is based on an ancient Japanese belief that instruments were used for invocation rather than for pure enjoyment. It begins hauntingly through Larson’s hollow and distant sound. In chant-like repetition, musical ideas are expanded through register, dynamic, and extended techniques, mounting in tension, energy, and brilliance. Larson’s sound builds in intensity through relentless dynamic and piercing register before abruptly dropping register and dynamic, creating an eerily quiet and unsettled feeling. Through flutter-tonguing and timbral trills, Larson portrays an almost ghostly sound quality before the music slips into silence. Larson’s control across wide dynamic range and extended technique brings this piece to life and convincingly expresses its ancient story."

Read The Complete Review Here

February 15, 2013

Laura Larson announces the release of her new CD, Jinju. The selections on this CD feature Laura Larson (flute), Angelina Pashmakova (piano), Valrie Kantorski (piano), Lucas Drew (double bass) and Kerstin Allvin (harp) performing works by Gieseking, Doppler, de la Presle, Miki, Martinu, Bolling, Donizetti, Cima, CPE Bach, and two world premiere recordings, Detours by James Hartway and Ichiro Higo’s Jinju, two compositions commissioned by Laura as a result of her cultural exchange performances between the Sister Cities of Detroit, Michigan and Toyota City, Japan. A potpourri of styles from the light-hearted jazzy Baroque and Blue of Claude Bolling to the intense and dramatic Jinju for solo flute, this CD is a compilation of music Larson has recorded from 1981 to 2012.

Additional biographical information:
Laura Larson is principal flutist in the Flint Symphony Orchestra and plays flute and piccolo with the Michigan Opera Theater Orchestra. She is on the adjunct applied faculty at Wayne State University and is a Suzuki Flute teacher trainer. A graduate of Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Ms. Larson received her BM degree from the University of Miami (Florida) and graduated from TEI in Matsumoto, Japan.

CBT in Carnegie Recital Hall (1980) & Larson Allvin in Skara, Sweden (1990)

The New York Times, Wednesday, October 8, 1980

The Contemporary Baroque Trio, which made its debut in Carnegie Recital Hall on Saturday night, not only boasts an unlikely name combining different musical periods, but also is composed of an unlikely combination of instruments: a piano, a flute and a double bass. And its unusual recital contained 13 compositions, including solo works for each instrument, sonatas by Johann Joachim Quantz and CPE Bach, the Suite for Flute, Jazz Piano and Double Bass by Claude Bolling, and the world premiere of Divertimento # 4, written for the trio by Elliott Schwartz.

In the midst of this programmatic exoticism, the three players, all teachers and performers based in Florida, were sensitive to one another’s playing, to their instruments, and to the styles of the various works. Lucas Drew provided a surprisingly restrained continuo line on his double bass in the Baroque works while easily making is way about the instrument in the contemporary works as well, including parts of Hans Werner Henze’s Serenade for Unaccompanied Double Bass.

The pianist, Valrie Kantorski, managed to evoke a melismatic sadness in Giovanni Paolo Cima’s Sonata in D minor, along with various frenetic and elegiac sensations in seven of the Shostakovich Preludes for Piano (op. 34). And Laura Larson’s flute playing was fluent, precise and energetic whether playing in Bohuslav Martinu’s Trio, or in John Wilson’s “Cote Flat Mill.”

. . . Whatever the idiom, the trio seemed comfortable and intelligent. Its playing was accurate and diversified. And the ensemble work made it clear that the players enjoyed making music as much as the audience enjoyed listening.

Reviews about Larson/Allvin concert in Varnhems Cloisterchurch in Skara, Sweden:

Skaraborgs Lans Tidning, Thursday, August 9, 1990, Skara, Sweden
“We were almost dizzy by their music . . . how does one write about their wonderful music to make people understand how beautiful it was?”

Skaraborgs Lans Allehanda, Friday, August 10, 1990, Skara, Sweden
“The Casilda Fantasy was big, strong and womanly played, with full presence and dazzling technique. . . Laura Larson showed a flute bravura in an all-the-time-faster and more intense performance, yet keeping a big vibrato.”

About Detours by James Hartway:
“What play! What expression! In Varnhems Cloisterchurch the dust from centuries among apostles and kings was whipped around. Our lovely musicians were almost carried out by the applause.”