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Album Review

Eyewitness marked the return of the flute quartet Flute Force to contemporary music after a few escapades in middle-of-the-road grounds (recordings of Ravel and Mozart). It comprises five new works. The CD begins with "Land of the Farther Suns," a cycle of poems by Stephen Crane put to music by David Alpher. A first version of this piece was scored for piano and narrator. The addition of the flute quartet to the instrumentation is not always as seamless as one could wish. There is little dialogue between flutes and piano. Author and radio personality Garrison Keillor narrates convincingly, but when one gets a hold of a voice like his, one should place it more prominently in the mix. The next three works are all flute only, and were written by flutists. The range of expression is therefore more diverse, even extreme in the case of Robert Dick's "Eyewitness." Dick has pioneered many extended techniques for the flute, and his score makes intelligent use of this vocabulary. Here, Sheryl Henze, Wendy Stern, Gretchen Pusch, and Rie Schmidt dazzle the listener with a well-balanced showcase of virtuosity and emotion. The four-voice dialogue established between the four soloists (there is no lead part) can be exhilarating at times, but it never escalates to something unbearable. To close the program, Eric Stokes' "Tantamounts" brings in the Meridian String Quartet for a piece in three movements that follows more usual guidelines but remain very playful, finishing on a lively note. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Eyewitness, Sheryl Henze
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