This release is a fine example of a record label fulfilling its mission by highlighting local talent while also making very intelligent selections of repertoire. Cedille is one of those labels whose every release is worthy of your attention. Here is a good example of why that is so. We have here four works for the rather uncommon combination of flute and clarinet with orchestra. Concerti for multiple instruments probably began with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerti but this combination of flute and clarinet limits the repertoire choices considerably. Nonetheless the folks at Cedille have gathered two 21st century pieces, one from the high romanticism of the late 19th century and a seldom heard gem from the late 18th century, all for these two instruments accompanied by orchestra.
Just for local interest let’s also add an opportunity for a local youth orchestra to show their considerable talents. The Chicago Youth Symphony under conductor Allan Tinkham demonstrates the remarkably polished and mature sound of this local gem (Cedille is a Chicago label). And Cedille, in its support of black musicians brings this marvelous pair of brothers with their expertise as soloists. All in all a classic Cedille style release, intelligent choice of repertoire, promotion of young artists, promotion of artists of color, and quality recordings.
The disc opens with the world premiere recording of the eponymous single movement work, “Winged Creatures” (2018) by one Michael Abels (1962- ). It is essentially a 12 minute concertante for the soloists with orchestra. Abels is best known for having scored the brilliant horror genre film “Get Out” from 2017 (if you haven’t seen it, do make a note to yourself).
Winged Creatures is a well written mini concerto which, despite its recent vintage, tends toward a sort of neo-romantic sound. The composer gives ample opportunity for the soloists to show their mettle and for the orchestra to demonstrate its facility with the music. It is a delightful showpiece which seems to have a cinematic feel to it.
Next up, and this is typical of the acumen of the folks at Cedille, is a full blown, heretofore unknown (practically) Sinfonia Concertante from a lesser known contemporary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Franz Danzi 1763-1826). This double concerto for flute, clarinet, and orchestra was published in 1813 and sounds like Mozart and/or early Beethoven. It is a highly entertaining piece, one which listeners will delight in hearing again. Who knows this piece could become a sensation in the concert hall once again. It’s about 22 minutes in length.
The third piece is an early work by French composer, pianist, organist, Charles Camille Saint-Saens (1836-1921). Tarantella Op. 6 (1857) was written in when the composer was only 22 years old. This is hardly one of his best works but it is a curiosity worthy of being heard and, like most of this composer’s work, it is eminently listenable.
Finally, we have another large scale concerto (and the second world premiere on the disc), “Concert Duo” (2012) by Joel Puckett (1977- ). In gestures classical, jazzy, contemporary, but as listenable as anything on this release, Puckett’s work in three movements has tantalizing titles for each of the movements suggesting a wealth of non-musical references.
The ample liner notes provide the listener with a guide to the joys to be heard on this collection and the recording, as usual with this label is lucid. You can’t go wrong with this one.