Sarah Bassingthwaighte is an award-winning flutist and composer, recognized in both of these roles in Europe, Russia, and the United States. Her solo and chamber music performances have been especially lauded for their convincing and polished interpretations of contemporary music, including many premieres. She performed Jacques Ibert’s Concerto with the Seattle Symphony at the age of 18. Her other CDs of solo 20th Century flute music include Stalks in the Breeze and Flute Meets Machine. Her solo recordings of music for flute and electronics have also appeared on the Centaur and CCMC labels. Bassingthwaighte has received enthusiastic reviews, including the British journal Pan Magazine who acclaims her “hypnotic and rich sound” and goes on to say “The tone quality is full of depth and power. Bassingthwaighte seems to have a particular talent for communicating the message of contemporary pieces,” which are “performed with polish and virtuosity.” Her articles have appeared in many magazines, including Flute Talk and Flutewise. She currently teaches at Seattle University, and previously taught and performed at the Rachmaninov Academy in Tambov, Russia, at the University of Washington and has performed at various NFA Conventions. She has a DMA in flute performance and an MM in composition and theory from the University of Washington, an MA in theory and pedagogy from Central Washington University, and a BM Honors in performance from Indiana University, Bloomington. Her teachers include Carol Wincenc, Julius Baker, Peter Lloyd, James Pellerite, Felix Skowronek, Hal Ott, and Bonnie Blanchard. Dr. Bassingthwaighte is included in both the International Who’s Who of Music and Musicians and the Who’s Who of American Women. More information can be found at www.subliminal.org/flute and www.sarahbassingthwaighte.com.
Tina Kuratashvili is a native of Tbilisi, Georgia, where she graduated with a Masters in piano performance and pedagogy from the Georgian State Conservatory in 1989. At the age of 7, she began attending the Paliashvili Music School for Gifted Children and graduated with distinction in 1984. She has performed with the Georgian Symphony Orchestra and the National TV Orchestra, and has had many solo performances. She also worked with the Georgian Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Georgian Conservatory, and has accompanied many soloists and conductors. She also performed the world premiere of Rakov’s Second Piano Concerto. In Seattle, she has been featured as a soloist with the Olympic Chamber Orchestra, playing Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in g minor and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in c minor. She is currently a member of the piano faculty at Seattle University and maintains a private studio.
About this Recording: This CD was recorded in Brechemin Hall at the University of Washington in
Seattle. All pieces were done without cuts – there is no editing except between pieces. Stephen
Bangs was the engineer.
Fikret Amirov: Six Pieces (1976)
Fikret Amirov was a prominent Azerbaijani composer of the Soviet period. He grew up surrounded by Azerbaijani folk music, and later studied it with great interest. He was heavily influenced by Azeri folk melodies, and created a new genre called symphonic mugam based on classical folk music. He was prolific, writing symphonies, ballets, operas, and piano music, and was fond of programmatic titles (such as Kurd Afshari, To the Memory of the Heroes of the Great National War, and 1,001 Nights). He was awarded the “People’s Artist of the USSR” prize in 1965, and twice the “USSR State Prize,” in 1949 and 1980.
The Caucasian fondness for the flute is evident in the Six Pieces for Flute and Piano by Amirov. These short, folk-inspired pieces have programmatic titles evoking a particular mood or place (In the Azerbaijan Mountains or At the Spring). In each of the pieces, there are ornamental motives in the flute over strong, straightforward rhythms, lending the pieces a Persian flavor. The melodies are charming and surprising. The melodies tend to be sinuous, compact and supple. The slower movements have a simple, lovely sadness to them, while the quick ones are rhythmic and dance-like.
Edison Denisov: Sonata for Flute and Piano (1960)
Edison Denisov was born in Tomsk, Russia in 1929, his father a physicist and his mother a doctor. He attended the Moscow Conservatory, and later, in 1959, he became a teacher of composition and instrumentation at the Conservatory. He had taken lessons from Philip Herscovici, a pupil of Webern, and that influence extended down to Denisov as well. From 1968 until 1970, Denisov worked in the experimental studio for electronic music in Moscow. Denisov considers Mozart, Bartok, Stravinsky and Webern as his principal influences, as well as Debussy and the other French composers who have had a strong influence in the Moscow Conservatory. The Flute Sonata, written in 1960, is somewhat a of a departure from the lightness of the Amirov, Gordeli, and Taktakishvili. This piece is in one movement, which is in modified Sonata form, with the Exposition and Recapitulation being the slow portions, and the Allegro impetuoso serving as the Development. The piece is serious and somewhat dark in tone, and is built more on its harmonies, colors, textures, and timbres than on a melodic line or chord progressions.
Otar Taktakishvili: Sonata for Flute and Piano (1968)
Taktakishvili (1924-1989) is one of Georgia’s pre-eminent composers, leaving a legacy of symphonies, concertos, oratorios, operas, and film music. He also was the composer of the Georgian National Anthem, “Hymn of the Georgian SSR,” which he wrote while a student at the Tbilisi Conservatory. After studying at the Tbilisi Conservatory, he worked with the Georgian State Choir, then taught at the same conservatory from 1959-1965, and finally was the Georgian Minister of Culture 1965-1984.
The Sonata for Flute and Piano was inspired by folk melodies, but is neoclassical in form. The first movement is a loose sonata form, with the Recapitulation presenting the materials in reverse order, and with a long Development. The main theme is a beautiful, high, soaring melody, which contrasts with the secondary theme, which is in the middle register and is march-like. The second movement is beautifully melancholic. The melody is simple, never becomes over-worked, and is especially evocative of sung folk melodies. The last movement is a rondo-form scherzando, and is energetic, fun, rhythmic, and fast. The driving 6/8 rhythm gives way to a heavier, straight-feeling section in the middle; it moves along like clockwork from a very practical beginning, gradually crescendoing to a full-throated climax.
Otar Gordeli: Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op. 8 (1958-59)
Gordeli (1928 – 1994) was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, and composed a great deal for piano, including two concertos, symphonies, and suites for orchestra, and an operetta. The Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op, 8 by Otar Gordeli is cheerful and jazzy, with Gershwin-like melodies alternating with running triplets and sixteenths. The seeming lightness is deceptive, though; the technical passages for the flute (and, in this case, the piano reduction) challenge the limits of most players, with arpeggios covering a large range and twisting back on themselves in unexpected ways. The piece is in a modified Sonata form, with lengthy Exposition and Recapitulation, and a relatively short Development. The two primary themes are highly contrasting – the quick and agile first theme is melodic yet virtuosic and somewhat accented, while the second theme (marked Andante) is legato, lyrical, slower, and colored with extended chords and jazz inflection.