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New York Times - 5 Classical Music Albums You Can Listen to Right Now

New York Times

Dec 28, 2022

A new account of Langgaard’s first symphony, a refreshing perspective on Reynaldo Hahn and sweeping contemporary programs are among the highlights.

Jennifer Grim, flute; Michael Sheppard, piano (New Focus)

In this program — of works by Tania León, Alvin Singleton, Julia Wolfe, David Sanford, Allison Loggins-Hull and Valerie Coleman — none of the music is on autopilot.

Singleton, born in 1940, is the oldest composer represented; his music should be heard in concert halls more frequently. Jennifer Grim’s take on “Argoru III,” for solo flute, digs in to his melodic gifts, as well as his feel for textural variation within five concise minutes. Similarly wide-ranging is León’s “Alma” — the lyrical opening of which follows a winding, entertaining path toward the bumptious rhythmic fillips of its central section. And in Coleman’s “Wish Sonatine,” a work inspired by a Fred D’Aguiar poem about the Middle Passage, the composer navigates between episodes of horror and moments of communal purpose with narrative drive.

Sanford — a protean talent — gets two pieces on the program. “Klatka Still,” for flute and piano, has been recorded before. On this release, Michael Sheppard excels in the keyboard’s avant-jazz-influenced clusters in the second movement; Grim’s flute playing steers some of that energy into starkly pressurized notes that also have the quality of swing. She puts similar skills to use in her premiere recording of Sanford’s “Offertory.” (Again, the second movement is the wild portion of the ride.) Two stirring flute solos — a self-overdubbed take on Wolfe’s “Oxygen,” for 12 flutes, and Loggins-Hull’s “Homeland” — round out this sharply executed program. SETH COLTER WALLS

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