October 22, 2018

  • Gorgeous New Flute Release Features Sara Hahn


    I Close My Eyes In Order to See
    Sara Hahn, flute. Laura Loewen, piano.
    Sarah Gieck, alto flute/flute.
    Navona Records 6182
    Total Time: 60:31
    Recording:   ****/****
    Performance: ****/****


    Flautist Sara Hahn is Principal Flute with the Calgary Philharmonic and Assistant Principal with the Vancouver Symphony.  Her new recital features a collection of mostly modern works for flute with a few familiar repertoire pieces.   She is joined by accompanist Laura Loewen and in two works by flautist Sarah Gieck.  The album’s themes invite personal reflection that takes us through emotional and natural landscapes.  These are further outlined with various emotional states in the accompanying booklet.

    Arthur M. Bachman’s three-movement work from 2006 lends its title to the CD itself.  This is a rather moving, reflective work with a modern musical language infused with touches of Impressionist style.  Thematic development is equally strong and draws out Hahn’s gorgeous lyrical playing.   The final movement has a rather melancholy feel which lies in contrast to the central movement’s slighter agitation and motivic development.  Later his The Curmudgeon and the Lark blends flute and alto flute in a story whose melodies follow widower and the new joy of discovery and unlikely friendship when he helps heal a bird.  It is a truly beautiful work that shifts between gorgeous themes and some more technical moments for the flitting bird.

    The other six works on the album also give ways to touches of reflection blended with sadness.  Kent Kennan’s (1913-2003) haunting beautiful Night Soliloquy (1936) helps connect to the album’s broader themes.  This is the solo version of a work known from one of Howard Hanson’s classic Eastman recordings.  The music has this sense of trepidation with its repeated opening dissonances in the piano.  These close intervallic ideas gradually shift but maintain a rather fitting tension against the florid solo line.  “Etching” (1964) is a solo excerpt from an orchestral work by Harry Somers.  The tempo picks up slightly as we move into Henry Wolking’s more substantial rondo, The Gate of Lodore (1984).  The music takes us on a journey on the Green River through Colorado.  Two French conservatory test pieces are also included.  First is Andre Jolivet’s Chant de Linos (1944) combining ancient laments and dance figures in his more modernist language with contemporary techniques such as flutter-tonguing.  Then the more traditional, and beautiful, Morceau de Concours (1898) by Faure follows.  The album concludes with a new duet, Pathways (2009), by Efrain Amaya which has fascinating shifts between the two solo flutes here that weave from melodic to accompaniment patterns sometimes in quick succession.

    Hahn has wonderful tone and shaping in her phrasing that can be overlooked when the music requires more technical virtuosity.  The collection of pieces makes for an enjoyable program of engaging works that expand the repertoire for the instrument while also connecting to some classic pieces.