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'De La Salle'

Music for recorders by Ryohei Hirose (1930-) Karel van Steenhoven (1958-) Leo Chadburn (1978-) Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) Arvo Part (1935-) Dick Koomans (1957 -)

The Flautadors (Catherine Fleming, Merlin Harrison, Celia Ireland and Ian Wilson)
Hardly Handel Series Handel House Museum, Brook Street, London - 28 August 2008

The music room in 25 Brook Street, where Handel used to live, is the ideal place to enjoy a recorder quartet. It was full (that means thirty people including the musicians) for a very unusual programme of 'contemporary' music (i.e. 1932-2001) for this versatile combination.

The shakahuchi inspired melismas of Ryohei Hirose put us into a receptive mood. Karel van Steenhoven's Wolken (clouds) represented the innovations in recorder playing introduced by the ground-breaking Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet, of which he was a member. Wolken was a work of dazzling complexity to expressive purpose, traversed with complete assurance and riveting the audience's attention.

A more sober experience was The Flautadors' re-arrangement of Hindemith's substantial Recorder Trio, composed from his inside experience of playing the recorder (he could play most of the instruments for which he wrote) - he even finished each movement with an inverted chord which contrives to make the deep fundamental audible below those notes actually played... Arvo Pärt's Pari Intervallo represented minimalism, with an example of his tintinnabulation technique. Lighter pieces which exploited the potential of the grup and their players were some Scottish folk tunes arranged by Ian Wilson and The Jogger by Dick Koomans, notable for its ingenious modulations into unrelated keys. (Each member of the quartet introduced one or more of the items, the information so dense and interesting as to make one regret they hadn't printed them out as handouts for the audience...)

Most striking and memorable of all was Leo Chadburn's tour de force De la Salle, which gave its title to this concert of music chosen for Handel's intimate music room. Transcribed from an orginal for violins, with much double-stopping, the work requires the players to operate two recorders each in their mouths simultaneously; a great sight and sound, à la Roland Kirk (saxophonist).

Pending a CD of contemporary music for recorders as envisaged by The Flautadors for the future, perhaps they might think about whetting appetites by putting De la Salle, at least, onto their website as a video (q.v. Nordic Voices' video-clip of one of Ligeti's Nonsense Madrigals); or else - for wider viewing by visitors - onto a popular site like MySpace, as do the recorders/lutes/voice group Pantagruel).

Readers are encouraged to take a little time following the several links above and on other Musical Pointers reviews, and to let us know if they are found to be helpful?

Peter Grahame Woolf

Early Music Review report 2005:
The Flautadors live in the Greenwich ORNC Chapel
[made] Bach's double violin concerto sound entirely self-sufficient on a quartet of recorders - - Contemporary development of the instrument was illustrated in two innovative ensemble pieces composed for them by David Murphy and Leo Chadburn; Chadburn's De la Salle, a tour de force for some ten instruments of different sizes, two in a mouth simultaneously most of the time! Another CD waiting to be made.

See our welcome to their most recent CD of Purcell & Locke