Flute Mystery – Works of FRED JONNY BERG: Flute Mystery; Warning Zero; Pastorale; Vicino alla Montagna; Flute Concerto No. 1, Op. 70 – Emily Beynon, flute/ Catherine Beynon, harp (on Flute Mystery)/ Philharmonia Orchestra/ Vladimir Ashkenazy & Fred Jonny Berg, conductors – 2L 2-disc-box, music-only Blu-ray with 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio 96K/24bit or PCM 2.0 96K/24bit + multichannel SACD – 2L58SABD *****:
The latest in the pretty much solo venture of the Norwegian label 2L in bringing out music-only Blu-ray releases (Stockfisch just released one however) seemed at first highly limiting to me – being all music for flute. Then I saw that only one of the five selections was for solo unaccompanied flute and that one was less than two minutes length, that the orchestra in the other selections was the Philharmonia, and the conductor on the title work and the four-movement flute concerto was Ashkenazy. My interest perked up.
Then I began listening to the music of Norwegian composer Berg. They are all tonal, innovative and highly original. He isn’t afraid to use many different tools to achieve his musical aims – diatonic, polytonal and modal harmonies – as well as strongly contrasting elements that create feelings of tension and release, plus considerable emotional communication. Berg is also a filmmaker, writer and singer and has a humanistic approach to his musical universe. His wide experience in many areas contributes to the great originality of his music.
Flutist Beynon is principal flute of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, gives master classes around the world and has recorded eight solo CDs. The title work is not really a concerto for flute and harp plus orchestra, but a blending of the sounds of the two solo instruments into a new timbre. Together with the orchestra a laid-back, somewhat mysterious mood is established and developed, but without the use of minimalism or the simplicity that a New Age music approach might take. The hi-res surround supports the mystical feeling of the music and draws the listener into it. The tone poem Warning Zero is the most extroverted of these works, with almost assaulting brass passages.
Berg’s piece alluding to the mountains is from a score he created for a film with the same title. He depicts mountain panoramas in his own way, and rather than the alpine peaks of some romantic composers, his are the rougher peaks of northern Norway. The Flute Concerto returns to something of the quieter and more contemplative mood of the opening piece. An impression of calm pervades the music without the use of minimalism or other modern devices.
As has been my experience with the earlier releases in this series, the supplied SACD sounded just the same as the music-only Blu-ray disc in the multichannel mode – except that this time (for the first time) there was a glitch with the Blu-ray which caused it to totally pause several times during playing, for up to a minute. After which it would continue unaffected. This did not occur with the SACD, so it’s a mystery to me.
– John Sunier