Ghosts and Gargoyles

Kathleen Nester, Svjetlana Kabalin, piccolos; Bart Feller, Paul Taub, flutes; Dianne Aitken, Patti Monson, bass flutes; Jeffrey Kraus, drum set; Donato Cabrera, assistant conductor; Robert Aitken, soloist and conductor

Henry Brant is one of those composers who tends to work with massive swathes of texture and sound, usually spreading musicians throughout a performance venue to create an all-encompassing spatial musical landscape. As soon as this CD arrived I played it right away, expecting to get lost in a sea of flutes. However, for this foray into new sonic territory Brant scales back on the number of performers, and the results are a little more sleek and nimble than his usual Super Bowl halftime show. Take Ghosts and Gargoyles for one soloist and an off-stage octet divided and situated around the corners of the concert hall. Add a drum set to this all-flute ensemble and you’re ready to go. Obviously there’s a certain homogeneity to the overall timbre, most of the time sounding a bit like a fragile pipe organ. Brant punctures these chorale-like passages with otherworldly sonorities using extended techniques, further juxtaposing his materials with some jazz drumming thrown in for good measure.

—RN