Music Review: Celebrating Virtuosity, Old and New – by Jim Lowe May 08, 2016
“Vermont Virtuosi proved to be just that, virtuosos on their respective instruments as well as in music making, Friday at Montpelier’s Bethany Church. Not only were masterpieces by Mozart, Brahms and Ravel given fine performances, a delightful new work was born. (The program was repeated at Elley- Long Music Center in Colchester on Saturday.) Barre composer David Gunn’s richly colored “The View from Six Windows” was premiered. The 16-minute work for flute/piccolo, clarinet and string quartet, was a journey that, though tonal, tells its story with rich harmonic colors and ever-changing rhythm.
Opening with a warm lyrical duet between cello and viola, the second violin joins in and then the first, followed by the clarinet and flute, weaving a warm and lyrical tapestry. The mood changes to up-tempo and jaunty, but is then overcome by the cello’s lyrical line, whose melody moves through the ensemble. And so it goes, intensifying and lightening, becoming jazzy, and finally returning to its warm lyricism.
It was a beautiful journey, thanks in part to a fine performance. Flutist and piccolo player Laurel Ann Maurer, Virtuosi’s artistic director, joined clarinetist Karen Luttik, violinists Letitia Quante and Jane Kittredge, violist Paul Reynolds and cellist John Dunlop. With the exception of Luttik, all are local musicians, and Kittredge and Dunlop are natives, reflecting the high level of classical musicians in Vermont these days.
Luttik, from the Boston area, proved a musician of probity and depth in the major work on the program, Brahms’ Clarinet Quintet, Opus 115. She played with a nuanced warm lyricism that sang its way through the work, setting the tone for the four strings. Except for the moments when Quante was a bit aggressive in outer movements, the rich warmth was maintained in this engaging performance.
Charming is too shallow a word to describe the light and lyrical beauty of the Virtuosi’s performance of Mozart’s Flute Quartet in A Major, K. 298. Maurer’s flute proved brilliant and lyrical, while each of the strings — Quante, Reynolds and Dunlop — matched her all the way, together and in their solo work.
Most unusual in the program was Ravel’s Sonatine, originally for solo piano, in an arrangement for flute and string quartet by Adam Manijak. Other than the dominance of the flute, the three-movement work sounded as if it had been orchestrated by Ravel. Maurer and the strings delivered its shimmering Impressionism.
Vermont Virtuosi concerts are now among the most rewarding chamber music performances in the
Music Review: Vermont composers and musicians triumph – Mar 13, 2016
By Jim Lowe
Times ArgusStaff Writer
Friday’s performance by the Vermont Virtuosi, at the Elley-Long Music Center in Colchester, was a happy reminder of the current high level of musicians and composers living and performing in Vermont.
Of the eight composers represented, all but one of the four most interesting were Vermont residents. And their works received universally fine performances by the four members of the Virtuosi, led by Barre flutist Laurel Ann Maurer, only one of whom was an imported flatlander. (The program was repeated Saturday at Brandon Music, and will be performed at 3 p.m. today at Montpelier’s Unitarian Church.)
Premiered was Northfield composer Dennis Báthory-Kitsz’s fascinatingly internal “Encircled by You.” The flute, clarinet, bassoon and piano created a quiet and cerebral atmosphere where the textures were ever evolving. Breaking into this world were instrumental moments, too incomplete to be called solos, some lyrical, some seemingly improvisatory, some tense and some pretty, only to return to the whole.
Báthory-Kitsz’s “Encircled by You” proved a rich ethereal and very personal experience.
The composers couldn’t have asked for more dedicated performances, or more competent ones for that matter, and the Báthory-Kitsz was particularly demanding. Maurer, the artist director, is one of the state’s finest flutists, with a beautiful sound and a real understanding for this music. Pianist Claire Black, the other regular member, played not only with the virtuosity demanded, but with finesse and depth.
Boston clarinetist Karen Luttik, who has previously performed with the group, proved both virtuosic and expressive with her warm sound. Bassoonist Julian Partridge, who plays with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, matched the others in skill and musical understanding. The playing was of a very high level throughout.
Burlington composer Thomas (Larry) Read, known for his cerebral compositions, was represented by his unexpectedly romantic 2009 trio “What Story Awaits its End?” for piano, flute and clarinet (and bass clarinet). Comprised of a series of diverse episodes and set of variations, the musical storytelling was superficially tonal with some beautiful rhapsodizing along the way. And it was delightfully unexpected.
There was some of Barre composer David Gunn’s trademark wit in his 2006 “The Conchoid of Nicomedes” for flute, clarinet, bassoon and piano. (There is an explanation to the title, but it’s much too convoluted to go into here.) In short, it’s a charmingly convoluted march through tonalities. It was fun and more.
Another big highlight of the program was performances of two works by French composer André Jolivet (1905-1974). In his 1944 “Chant de Linos,” Opus 25, Maurer delivered the chromatic virtuosity with flair, matched all the way by Black’s sensitivity. (Famed French flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal won his First Prize at the Paris Conservatory with this work.) Luttik proved warm and expressive in the more introspective 1954 “Meditation,” also complemented by Black.
The high level of music and music making by the Vermont Virtuosi was truly gratifying.
Music Review: Violin virtuosity reigns (Article published Nov 16, 2014)
By Jim Lowe
The violin virtuosity was deep, warm and brilliant Friday at Vermont Virtuosi concert at Bethany Church in Montpelier — but that was hardly all.
There were substantial works by J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Debussy and a world premiere by Vermont composer David Gunn, as well as a bit of flute and piano virtuosity as well. (The program will be repeated at 4 p.m. today at the First Baptist Church in Burlington.)
Violinist Arturo Delmoni, the ensemble’s guest artist, is well known in central Vermont, having played often as part of Randolph’s Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival, Capital City Concerts and now Vermont Virtuosi.
Concertmaster of the New York City Ballet orchestra for half the year, he is a veteran touring virtuoso for the remainder.
Emblematic of Delmoni’s rich virtuosity was Viennese violinist Fritz Kreisler’s 1910 Praeludium and Allegro (in the style of Pugnani), a Romantic homage to a Baroque composer. Delmoni delivered the grandeur of the prelude with a warm, luscious sound, and the following virtuosic sections deftly with flair. It was exciting as well as beautiful.
South Burlington pianist Claire Black was Delmoni’s accompanist in the Kreisler, but became a duo partner in Beethoven’s Sonata No. 7 in c minor, Opus 30, No. 2, for violin and piano. Delmoni’s expressiveness and deep passion proved ideal this masterpiece. The passion simmered throughout, save for the tenderly expressive Andante cantabile. Black matched Delmoni all the way.
Delmoni and Black were joined by Barre flutist Laurel Ann Maurer, artistic director of the ensemble, for another highlight of the concert, Gunn’s “Third Highway.” The title notwithstanding, the 13-minute trio opens with a chant-like melody in the piano, joined by the violin and then the flute. The deeply lyrical, tonal but not mundane, work moves from beautiful lyricism to an accelerating jauntiness. It’s quite charming and beautiful.
Maurer and Black proved their mettle as well as their musicianship in a transcription of Debussy’s “Prélude à l’près-midi d’un faun.” Maurer matched her warm supple sound to Black’s sensual orchestral simulation. The two were also heard in a spirited and elegant performance of Bach’s Sonata in E-flat Major, BWV 1031 for flute and clavier.
Maurer had her chance at Delmoni-like virtuosity in Franz Doppler’s “L’oiseau des bois,” and she delivered. Also with Black, Delmoni performed showpieces by Sibelius, Wieniawski, Fauré and de Falla.
Friday’s Vermont Virtuosi concert was deeply rewarding music making by topnotch players.
Music Review: Vermont composers fare best (Article published Mar 3, 2014)
By Jim Lowe
Although other composers were much better known, it was two Vermont composers who shone at Vermont Virtuosi’s Saturday concert at Montpelier’s Unitarian Church. (The concert was moved from Bethany Church, where it was originally scheduled, because of heating problems; the program was repeated Sunday in Burlington.)
Vermont Virtuosi, a versatile chamber ensemble led by Barre flutist Laurel Ann Maurer, commissioned and premiered Burlington composer Thomas (Larry) Read’s “If Winter Comes” for flute and piano. In fact, to a degree, the lively and effervescent musical storytelling was loosely based on the Russian fable of the crane and the otter.
A stark and haunting introduction by the piano is warmed by the crane in the form of the songful flute. The story — and the music — works through pastoral quiet, agitation, and builds to an exciting finale. The language, though largely tonal, has the richness of Read’s characteristic spicy harmonies and rhythms. It proved to be an intriguing and rewarding 9-minute tale.
Maurer, an excellent and veteran flutist, delivered not only the virtuosity demanded with clarity and understanding, she played with warmth and lyricism when called for. Burlington’s Claire Black, the ensemble pianist, played with clarity, sensitivity and understanding.
Also outstanding, though with a very different flavor, was an older work by Barre composer David Gunn, Maurer’s husband. Though also musical storytelling, his 2003 “In the forest, 400 owls discover a giant badger; it’s raining,” for B-flat clarinet and piano, is full of overt humor and it’s much more tonal. In the 10½-minute piece, the jazzy writing travels through various stages building to a frenzy but closes with warm lyricism — and it’s great fun.
Here again, great virtuosity is demanded from the players. Boston-area clarinetist Karen Luttik played with not only a warm, sensuous sound, she managed a deft clarity, always expressive, in the driving passages. Black backed her all the way, with deftness and sensitivity.
The program was comprised of eight short works written from 1971-2013, interesting in itself, but it led to a sameness of sound. The best-known work was Aaron Copland’s 1971 Duo for Flute and Piano. It’s a pretty pastoral work (think “Appalachian Spring”). Maurer and Black could have imbued it with a bit more passion, but they delivered the virtuoso finale with flair.
Vermont Virtuosi are excellent professional musicians who offer insight into unusual literature — a welcome addition to Vermont’s music scene.
Trio introduces new David Gunn piece – by Jim Lowe June 17,2013
Vermont Virtuosi, a new central Vermont chamber ensemble, proved its mettle in an outstanding concert Saturday at the First Baptist Church which introduced a gorgeous new work by a Barre composer as well as showcasing some fine instrumentalists. (The program was also presented at Montpelier’s Bethany Church Friday.)
Flutist Laurel Ann Maurer (the group’s leader), violist Tatania Trono, and pianist Claire Black proved expert players in a variety of unusual works, but it was the premiere of David Gunn’s “Les Visions de Bellimar” that proved most intriguing. Opening with a Brahms-like lyricism that enjoyed the instruments’ singing qualities — albeit with much more contemporary, though tonal, harmonic language — they alternated and shared the melodies that intertwined in a most sensual manner.
That warmth moved into a trademark Gunn style, dubbed “fast Gunn” by Burlington composer Thomas (Larry) Read in which the music takes off, driven in a witty, syncopated jazzy style. After a substantial flute cadenza, the jazz-like flavor returns for a mad rush to the end.
This is a substantial work that, despite its traditional language, feels very contemporary. Listening to it proved an emotional and sensual pleasure.
Maurer is one of the state’s top flutists with a fine, direct tone, amazing articulation and a sophisticated musicality. Trono, who went from the Vermont Youth Orchestra to Peabody Institute to Rice University to a professional career, is a fine violist, with a beautiful dark and pliable sound and a natural musicianship. Black is a pianist with a substantial technique, plenty of power, yet with a sensitive musicality.
Much in the vein of the Gunn, but with a deep French sensuality, for the same three instruments, was 20th century composer Maurice Duruflé’s “Prélude, Récitatif et Variations.” While all three played with expertise and sensitivity, the performance missed some of the rich coloration possibilities. Still, it was beautiful.
Trono and Black delivered a compelling performance of Paul Hindemith’s knotty 1922 Sonata for Viola and Piano. Trono enjoyed the work’s edgy passion and haunting lyricism with natural musical inflection, matched all the way by Black. Although the balance occasionally favored the piano, it was deeply rewarding.
Maurer excelled with “Arcana I,” a work for solo flute by Meyer Kupferman (1926-2003), a composer and jazz musician known for his “Atonal Jazz.” Maurer successfully explored and delivered the storytelling quality of the work with virtuosity and expertise. It was entirely convincing. Maurer used the same storytelling ability in Debussy’s “Syrinx.” Also on the program were two other works for flute and piano, Georges Enescu’s warm, lyrical and quietly virtuosic 1904 Cantabile et Presto, and Arthur Foote’s lyrical neo-Baroque Sarabande and Rigadon.
Maurer, Trono and Black proved fine players in a most rewarding concert.
IMAGINATIVE PROGRAM MELDS BAROQUE AND JAZZ
Posted on August 2, 2013 by Edward Reichel
LAUREL ANN MAURER, Flute, Dumke Recital Hall, David Gardner Hall, Aug.
“Since Laurel Ann Maurer moved to Vermont several years ago, it’s a rare treat whenever she returns to Utah for a concert.
She was in Salt Lake City this week, and Thursday Maurer played an imaginative program in Dumke Recital Hall that paired baroque music with jazz – a combination that works surprisingly well, especially when played by a talented group of musicians.
The first half of the concert focused on the baroque composers Georg Philipp Telemann and J.S. Bach, as well as one of Bach’s sons, C.P.E. Bach.
Joined by local musicians Pamela Jones on harpsichord and Richard Jones on viola da gamba (a young man with a lot of talent) Maurer opened with Telemann’s Sonata in F minor. She and her musical partners infused the slow movements with wonderfully nuanced lyricism while bringing dance like vibrancy to the Allegro and Vivace movements.
C.P.E. Bach’s Hamburg Sonata in G major followed. A prominent figure in the transitional period between the baroque and classical eras, Bach’s music clearly embodies the principles of the emergent classical style. His works are refined and elegant, and the trio of musicians underscored that with their polished account.
Rounding out the first half was J.S. Bach’s Trio Sonata in G major, BWV 1039, played by just Maurer and Pamela Jones. They brought remarkable clarity and precision to their account. There was depth and subtlety in their playing and a wonderful sense of lyricism.
The second half was devoted to Claude Bolling’s Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio. Written for the late flute virtuoso Jean-Pierre Rampal, the suite is a clever and creative blending of classically inspired melodies and jazz harmonies and rhythms.
Maurer and Pamela Jones (on piano) were joined by bass player Denson Angula. The three gave a fabulous account that captured the improvisatory character of the music. It was quite a tour de force performance in which they deftly brought out the wit and sophistication of each of the suite’s seven sections.”
Music Review: Vermonters reign in New Year’s Eve concert
“MONTPELIER — While First Night should have been happening Monday, a small crowd enjoyed what turned out to be a first-rate flute and piano recital by relative newcomers to the area.
Barre flutist Laurel Ann Maurer and pianist Claire Black, who lives in Underhill, proved to be fine professional musicians in their program “Baroque and Blue,” which had also been presented in Burlington on Saturday and Stowe on Sunday. Music ranged from J.S. Bach to Claude Bolling, but it was a work by Barre composer David Gunn, Maurer’s husband, that proved most compelling — and the audience’s clear favorite.
“Forbidden Flute,” written in 2004 before Gunn met Maurer, begins with a witty melody that is reminiscent of movie music depicting Middle Eastern bazaars. From there, it goes all over the place with seemingly familiar themes, demanding real virtuosity from both the flutist and pianist.
In “Forbidden Flute,” Gunn’s trademark wit does not mask the depth of this musically powerful and most rewarding work. Maurer played with a warm lyricism as well as comfortable virtuosity, matched by Black’s clarity and natural musicality. It was a beautiful performance of beautiful music.
Exquisite, though, was the evening’s encore, Louis Moyse’s “Siciliane (for Shimmie),” written just before the composer died in 2007 at 94 in Montpelier. This little gem, dedicated to Moyse’s dog, was hauntingly lyrical, sentimental but never trite, in a way the French do so well. Maurer and Black played with sensitivity, making it a truly touching experience.
Times have certainly changed when the audience favorites are by Vermont composers. Maurer, who has performed and taught extensively in New York City and Utah, has been championing new music since her student days. Black, who hails from upstate New York and graduated from Cleveland Institute of Music (where Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson now teach), has extensive chamber music experience — and it showed.
Absolutely charming was the duo’s performance of the early Classical Sonata in G Major (“Hamburg”) by Carl Phillip Emmanuel (C.P.E.) Bach, one of Johann’s sons. Particularly in the opening Allegretto, Maurer’s articulation gave the music a lilt that made the music sing, but with a charming lightness. Black too had a light touch that was most effective, and the final Rondo-Presto was light and lively.
Great fun was P.D.Q. Bach’s “Sonata Piccola for Piccolo and Keyboard,” a hilarious spoof of Baroque music that even includes a touch of John Phillip Sousa. In addition to hamming it up perfectly, they managed its technical difficulties with aplomb.
Claude Bolling’s 1973 Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano is a charming crossover work, somewhat superficial, sometimes beautiful and always charming — which this duo happily delivered.
Least successful was J.S. Bach’s E Major Sonata, BWV 1035, for flute and continuo. The two slow movements were awkward rhythmically in both flute and keyboard parts, and lacked the lyricism so abundant in the rest of the program. Still, the two fast movements were well articulated and well played.
Maurer and Black are a welcome addition to central Vermont’s already rich classical music scene.” – By Jim Lowe
January 2, 2013, Times Argus
FLUTIST LAUREL ANN MAURER SHOWCASED IN CHAMBER CONCERT
WINTER CLASSICS CONCERT, DUMKE RECITAL HALL, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH
“Sunday’s Winter Classics concert was a showcase for American and Russian music – with a couple of French pieces thrown in for good measure.
The first half focused solidly on flutist Laurel Ann Maurer. One of today’s preeminent flutists, the concert gave Maurer the opportunity of exhibiting both her impressive technique as well as her remarkable musicality.
This section of the concert opened and closed with works by American composer David Gunn. Gunn writes tonal but sophisticated music that is infused with wit and a finely honed sense of rhythm. The music is tricky to pull off, but when it is done well, as it was Sunday, then the result is wonderfully entertaining and gratifying.
“The Giant Pecking Sparrows,” for flute and clarinet, the first of the two pieces by Gunn that were played, interweaves the two instruments in some intricately carved phrasings. Maurer and clarinetist Russell Harlow played it with lyricism and fluid lines that captured the sunny lightness of the music.
The other piece, “Euphonicum Tangenturis,” was written for Maurer and Harlow who, together with pianist Bryan Stanley, gave the world premiere Sunday. The work is more densely textured than the other piece, yet it isn’t heavy even though the three instruments play together almost incessantly. There is a luminous melodicism that runs throughout the work, along with some nicely shaped rhythmic twists that energize it. The three musicians gave a wonderfully crafted account that captured the subtleties and nuances of the score. Their playing was fluid and cohesive.
Maurer was also featured in a piece for solo flute by Arthur Honegger, “Danse de la Chevre.” A captivating piece, Maurer’s playing was expressive and captured the simple straightforward melodicism of this short work.
Rounding out the first half was the “Carmen Fantasy” for flute, clarinet and piano by clarinetist and Rice University faculty member Michael Webster. All of the well known tunes from Georges Bizet’s opera are contained in this showpiece, and the three gave a fabulously virtuosic account that didn’t miss a thing.
The second half of the program was an all-Russian affair. It opened with two pieces for clarinet and string quartet: Alexander Glazunov’s “Oriental Reverie” and Sergei Taneyev’s “Canzona,” played by Harlow and violinists Alexander Woods and Rebecca Moench; violist Leslie Harlow; and cellist Julie Bevan. The two pieces complement each other and both were played with polish, finely crafted lyricism and subtle expressiveness.
The concert ended with Glazunov’s String Quartet in G major, op. 26, no. 3. The musicians gave a compelling account that captured the soaring lyricism and nuances of the music. It was an engaging and very eloquent performance. Glazunov is a rather neglected composer today, and it’s performances such as this one that makes one want to hear more of his music in the concert hall.” – Posted on January 10, 2011 by Edward Reichel
SPLENDID EVENING OF FLUTE MUSIC WITH LAUREL ANN MAURER
LAUREL ANN MAURER, “FOUR CENTURIES OF FLUTE MUSIC,” Dumke Recital Hall, University of Utah
“Laurel Ann Maurer is without doubt one of the top flutists today. She possesses an exquisite tone, remarkable technique and wonderful musicality, all of which combine to allow her to raise the bar on flute playing. Maurer is also a fine interpreter of all musical periods, including today’s and a number of composers have written works for her.
A former resident of Utah who now makes her home in Vermont, Maurer was in town this week and on Thursday presented a marvelous concert that spotlighted her amazing talent.
Maurer’s concert exploring 400 years of the flute repertoire started with J.S. Bach’s Sonata in E flat for Flute and Continuo, BWV 1031. She was joined by harpsichordist Pam Jones and viola da gamba player Richard Jones, and the three gave a nuanced account with finely balanced playing. The middle movement Siciliana was particularly expressive.
The Bach was followed by Theobald Boehm’s Introduction and Variations on Paisiello’s “Nel Cor Piu.” Boehm was a noted flutist himself as well as an accomplished composer, and this set of variations is a stunning showpiece for the flutist. Maurer, accompanied by Jones at the piano, showed her mastery of her instrument in a tour de force performance that was flawlessly executed and delivered.
Changing character, Maurer and Jones were joined by fellow flutist Nancy Toone in a captivating arrangement of the “Flower Duet” from Léo Delibes’ opera Lakmé. The two flutists sounded wonderful together and they gave a poetic and expressive reading of this well known piece.
The first half closed with Paul Hindemith’s intense Sonata for Flute and Piano. Maurer and Jones again exhibited first rate ensemble play, giving a dynamic account that was rich in expressions and emotions.
Maurer opened the second half with Claude Debussy’s gorgeous Syrinx for solo flute. Her seamless playing captured the sensuality and lushness of the music beautifully.
The rest of the program was devoted to two works by Vermont composer David Gunn: Lunar Mural I, written for Maurer, and The Conchoid of Nicomedes.
Lunar Mural I is scored for alto flute and recorded sounds that are cleverly integrated. The piece is very atmospheric and melodic and Maurer did a fabulous job bringing cohesion to it.
In The Conchoid of Nicomedes clarinetist Lee Livengood and bassoonist Luke Pfeil joined Maurer and Jones. The piece is vibrant and upbeat. The three woodwind players play pretty much without stop and, together with the pianist, require precision to pull this piece off, and the four certainly had no problem there. Their playing was textured, nuanced and wonderfully musical.” – Posted on June 2, 2011 by Edward Reichel
CONTEMPORARY MUSIC CONSORTIUM, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
“Utah native Marie Nelson Bennett is a prolific composer who has written works in every genre. She has also written quite a few pieces for local musicians.
Her most recent work, “A Filigree of Flowers,” was premiered at Sunday’s Contemporary Music Consortium concert. Written for flutist Laurel Ann Maurer and clarinetist Russell Harlow, they played the piece with pianist Pamela Jones.
Based on a poem by Bennett’s sister, the four-movement work is a bouquet of flowers as it musically describes sunflowers, flax, lupines and Indian paintbrush. It’s a lovely lyrical and melodic piece. But it certainly isn’t a piece of fluff. It’s both intense and driven.
One thing about Bennett’s music is that after hearing it, whether it’s a large scale orchestral work or a more intimate chamber piece, one comes away feeling satisfied. Her works are musically rewarding experiences, and that’s true of “A Filigree of Flowers.”
The work demands solid collaboration among the three players to make it work. And Maurer, Harlow and Jones certainly gave a dynamic performance that captured the intricate interplay among the three parts wonderfully. They played with precision and clarity, yet they also brought feeling and rich expressiveness to their reading.
Krysztof Penderecki is also an amazingly prolific composer. His Quartet for Clarinet, Violin, Viola and Cello, from 1993, was also on Sunday’s program. Harlow was joined by violinist Monte Belknap, violist Leslie Harlow and cellist Julie Bevan, and the four gave a compelling reading that captured the overall rather gloomy mood of the work. Their playing was wonderfully expressive, and they managed to bring clarity to the score’s dense texture, which at times, particularly in the opening movement, verges on the claustrophobic. But to their credit, they brought carefully modulated expressiveness and lyricism to their account.
Three other works were on the program including Elliott Carter’s solo flute piece, “Scrivo in Vento,” which Maurer played as if she owned it. A demanding work that explores the extremes of the flute, Maurer made short work of it with her assured technique and stunning musicality.
Maurer and Russell Harlow opened the concert with Robert Muczinski’s Duo for Flute and Clarinet, and, joined by Jones, Karel Husa’s “Eight Bohemian Sketches.”
Muczinski’s piece is delightfully airy and lyrical and focuses on the two instruments’ expressive side, while Husa’s work (which was originally written for piano four hands) is more evocative and more textured. Both were given wonderful readings that brought out each work’s distinctive characteristics.” By Edward Reichel, Deseret News Monday, June 22, 2009
Four Compositions premiere at VCME concert
“Laurel Ann Maurer on piccolo, Steven Klimowski, VCME’s artistic director, on clarinet, and Jonathan Ranney on contrabassoon proved convincing in this premier performance [of “Eventide” by Dennis Báthory-Kitsz], with a well-blended sound and real passion for the music. . . . Flutist Maurer, clarinetist Klimowski and bassoonist Elliott delivered this feline quality in this premier performance [of Alex Abele’s “Paws and Stripes Forever”].”by Jim Lowe, Times Argus, Feb. 8, 2009 read full review
CONTEMPORARY MUSIC CONSORTIUM, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Sunday
“Sunday’s Contemporary Music Consortium Concert was a showcase for flutist Laurel Ann Maurer. A longtime resident of Utah who now makes her home on the East Coast, this was Maurer’s first local concert in nearly two years.
It was an absolute pleasure having her back in town again, even if for only a short time. A consummate artist, Maurer put her remarkable artistry on display Sunday in a compelling program that allowed her to dazzle the audience not only with her immaculate technical prowess but also mesmerize them with her amazing musicality and eloquently expressive playing.
Accompanying her for all except two pieces was pianist John Jensen, well known in the Beehive State for his long-term association with the Park City and Salt Lake City Music Festival.
Jensen is a wonderful pianist in his own right and an amazing accompanist. He seems to know exactly what is needed from his side and knows how to achieve the perfect balance with his partner. Throughout the concert, their collaboration was very organic and intuitive.
The two works that Jensen sat out were Malcolm Arnold’s Duo for Flute and Viola, op. 10, that opened the concert, and, later in the first half, Dana Paul Perna’s Fantasy-Sonata for solo flute.
Maurer was joined by violist Leslie Harlow for the Arnold. A delightfully light and lyrical piece, their reading was captivating and charming.
The Perna, on the other hand, is more wide-ranging in content than the Arnold. Maurer played it with rich expressiveness that captured the lyricism of the work wonderfully.
Also on the first half were two pieces by Utah composers Marie Nelson Bennett and Michael Carnes.
Nelson Bennett’s “Reflection” is, as the title suggests, a contemplative piece with a tinge of wistfulness about it. Mainly chordal writing in the piano supports the flute’s sweet melodic line, and both Maurer and Jensen captured the tenderness of the piece enticingly.
Carnes’ “Spidgin” was written for Maurer and received its world premiere Sunday. Rhythmic and vibrant, Maurer and Jensen captured the kinetic energy of the piece with their dynamic playing.
Rounding out the first half was Bohuslav Martinu’s Sonata for Flute and Piano. A cornerstone of 20th century flute repertoire, the sonata is filled with wit and lyricism. It received an immaculate reading by Maurer and Jensen, whose playing was polished, refined and wonderfully vibrant.
Jensen was featured soloistically in the second half, playing two movements (“The Alcotts” and “Thoreau”) from Charles Ives’ monumental “Concord” Sonata. His perusal of these two movements was nuanced, well articulated and dynamic.
The duo rounded out the second half with Katherine Hoover’s “Three Sketches” for piccolo and piano, and Lowell Liebermann’s Sonata for Flute and Piano, whose second movement is a virtuosic whirlwind for the flutist.” By Edward Reichel, Deseret News May 26, 2008
‘First’ Concert is Musician’s Last
“The Contemporary Music Consortium opens its new season Thursday in its home in the First Unitarian Church as part of the church’s “First Thursdays at the First” series. The concert, which includes several local premieres, will mark the end of one era and the start of another. For longtime CMC director Laurel Ann Maurer, the concert will be her last, as she will be leaving Utah shortly to relocate in another state. . . .” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Oct. 27, 2006 read full review
Symphony conductor sparkles
“The symphony’s principal flute, Laurel Ann Maurer, was Saturday’s soloist, playing Dana Paul Perna’s “songe de voix perdues” (“dream of the forgotten voices”), for flute and strings, in its American premiere. . . . Maurer’s beautiful tone and poetic playing brought a textured eloquence to the piece to Perna’s overwhelmingly expressive and evocative piece. . . .” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News , Apr. 24, 2006 read full review
Flutist is a poet of her instrument
“In her playing, Maurer combines extraordinary technique with magnificent musicianship. And no matter what she plays — whether it’s music from the 18th or the 21st centuries, whether it’s delicately lyrical or fiendishly virtuosic — she performs it with a self-assuredness that impresses the listener with its eloquence. Maurer is a veritable poet of her instrument. . . .” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Jan. 9, 2006 read full review
Consortium is lyrical and expressive
“Larson’s “Barn Dances” is a gregarious, uninhibited piece that contains plenty of homespun humor. Maurer, Jensen and Harlow gave a stunning performance that captured the uniqueness of the four-movement work. . . .” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Jan. 6, 2006
Modern music pervades at CMC concert
“. . . Maurer and Moss gave a performance that was anything but dull. They brought life to [Carson P. Cooman’s Sonata for Flute and Piano] in their vibrant and dynamic interpretation. Maurer and Moss are wonderful collaborators. Her luminous playing and his perceptiveness complement each other superbly. . . . There was one other piece by Cooman on the program, his “Distant Glittering Orbs” for alto flute, which he dedicated to Maurer. She played the evocative piece with wondrous expressiveness, feeling and seamless phrasings. . . .” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Nov. 5, 2005
Concert devoted to music by women
“. . . The musical side of the program began with Maurer playing Katherine Hoover’s “Kokopelli” for solo flute. The evocative piece creates images of American Indians in its soundscape. And Maurer’s lyrical playing captured the mysteriously otherworldly character.
The next piece, Judith Shatin’s “Coursing Through the Still Green,” continued the mood set forth in Hoover’s work. Once again playing unaccompanied, Maurer captured the seamless lyricism of Shatin’s piece with unerring perceptiveness and clarity.
Maurer played two other solo pieces, this time for alto flute — Marilyn Bliss’ “Lament” and Ann Hankinson’s “Soaring,” which was written for her and received its world premiere Sunday. In both, Maurer was accompanied by dancer Ai Fujii from the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. The anguished and intense “Lament” is musically and visually quite striking. Intended to be performed with a dancer, the work’s fluid phrases were mimicked in Fujii’s gracefully choreographed lines.
“Soaring” is a sensual work, one that is both evocative and provocative. Maurer and Fujii capably captured the long fluid lines with their thoughtful interpretation. . . .” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Mar. 8, 2005
Consortium shows off local talent
“. . . “Gabriel’s Wing,” for flute and piano, was written by Judith Shatin. Jensen and Maurer gave a stunning performance of this virtuosic piece that captured the richness of the music with its imaginative use of overtones. . . .” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Jan. 25, 2005
CMC season opener compelling, dynamic
“Playing a wide array of contemporary and older (mid-20th century) music, the Contemporary Music Consortium helps fill a void in the local music scene. . . . The second half of the concert contained the two works that were the most imaginative and ingenious on the program, beginning with the Zorf [Anthony Zorf’s Six Miniatures for Flute and Piano (1997)]. Flutist Laurel Ann Maurer and pianist Jeffrey Price gave a stunning performance that captured the unique character and flavor or each of these six brief movements. . . . The first half of the concert opened with Meyer Kupferman’s dazzling “Short Shrift” for Piccolo and Clarinet (1971). Maurer and Russell Harlow played it with a lightness that underscored the music’s brilliance and suppleness. . . .” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Nov. 9, 2004
Soloists’ virtuosity reigns at festival
“. . . Local flutist Maurer has been a prominent member of the artist roster of the Park City festival for years, and it’s always been a particular pleasure whenever she’s featured at one of the festival’s concerts. Maurer is an exceptional flutist whose playing is noted for its musicality and virtuosity, both of which were on display last weekend.
Maurer, partnered by Jensen, played a set of three pieces for flute and piano by Enesco (“Cantabile et Presto”), Faure (“Fantasy,” op. 79) and Philippe Gaubert (“Fantasy”). These pieces deftly showcased her talent as they explored the expressive and technical possibilities of the instrument. . . .” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Aug. 10, 2004
CMC paints in broad strokes with contemporary music
“. . . Maurer and her colleagues at CMC are passionate about contemporary music. They want audiences to be exposed to newer works, and they want to give composers a forum where their music can be performed.
“I believe in new music. And I support the continuation of the creation of art, otherwise it’ll stagnate and possibly die. We need to cultivate new music.”” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Oct. 27, 2002
4 Utah composers’ works stand out
“. . . Funicelli’s “Principia” is an ambitious work in four movements for solo flute. It was played beautifully by Laurel Ann Maurer. In this lengthy piece, Maurer had the opportunity to exhibit her musical and technical skills to the fullest. . . .” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, May 14, 2001
Utahns’ Concerto opens season
“. . . Appropriately, flautist Laurel Ann Maurer will be the featured soloist for the [Manookian Flute] concerto. Caswell said that in addition to the fact that Maurer is a “flute player par excellence,” she also dedicates her career to creating and performing contemporary music. “She is really committed to the progress of musicmaking,” Caswell noted. “She plays everything, but she has a real understanding for 20th-century music, it’s inner-workings, its voice, and its song. She understands the language of many, many composers and really works to get their music played.”” by Rebecca Cline Howard, Deseret News, Sep. 30, 2001
Consortium Captures Essence of Crumb
“The pinnacle of the program was “Vox Balaenae” (Voice of the Whale), one of Crumb’s masterworks. Flutist Laurel Ann Maurer, cellist Gayle Smith and pianist Jeffrey Price gave a definitive reading of this intriguing work. This was Crumb with conviction. Smith and Maurer not only had to play their instruments in every pyrotechnical way, they had to sing and whistle too. . . .” by Jeff Manookian, Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 30, 2000
Maurer’s Flute Strikes Gold in Concert Featuring Music by American Women
“Laurel Ann Maurer indubitably ranks among this country’s “creme de la creme” of flute talents. Her current and laudable mission is to promote the creations of America’s composers who are currently writing for the flute. . . Maurer and Martin were consistently stellar throughout the concert. From Jennifer Higdon’s peaceful ballad, “Legacy” to the well-known composer Joan Tower’s vibrant “Hexachords,” the audience heard flute and piano playing that would be difficult to top on any world stage. . . .” by Jeff Manookian, Salt Lake Tribune, May 8, 2000
Virtuoso turns S.L. concert into paradise for flute lovers: Maurer shows she’s a true poet of her instrument
“Maurer is an exquisite artist. She plays with a musicality that’s sorely missed in many other performers. She skillfully integrates virtuosity into the musical fabric of the works she plays. She is a true poet of her instrument. . . .” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Feb. 20, 2000
Utah Composers Take Center Stage at Music Consortium Concert
“Flutist Laurel Ann Maurer was brilliant playing all three flutes (one at a time, of course) on the Rosenzweig opus. She was similarly brilliant playing just the alto flute on Price’s haunting “Night Dance” — on which the composer acted as pianist. . . .” by Jeff Manookian, Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 24, 2000
All Saints Chamber Orchestra Vivifies Vivaldi
“. . . The venerable Laurel Ann Maurer got to present her multiple talents as a flutist and piccoloist. The crowd was understandably dazzled at Maurer’s acrobatics in Vivaldi’s Piccolo Concerto. Not only did she present some staggering pyrotechnics with this most treble of all instruments, she showed that this tiny cousin of the flute is capable of sublime singing qualities.
As a flutist, Maurer got the audience to proverbially say “viva Gluck” and “viva Maurer” as this solo musician brilliantly played Gluck’s “Dance of the Blessed Spirits” from “Orpheus.” There was something magical during this composition’s presentation. . . .” by Jeff Manookian, Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 8, 1999
Rosenberg summons new life out of Viva Vivaldi concertos
“. . . Flutist Laurel Ann Maurer was the soloist in the Gluck piece [Dance of the Blessed Spirits], and she and the orchestra were wonderful. Rosenberg took this delightful piece at a leisurely tempo that made the music all the more poignant. It was a memorable performance.
Maurer was also the soloist in Vivaldi’s Concerto for Piccolo and Strings in C major. Maurer was able to showcase her virtuosity here, and she was terrific. Maurer is an exceptionally talented musician, and she gave an electrifying performance of this somewhat unusual yet very melodic concerto.” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Dec. 6, 1999
Audience Not Left Wanting At CMC’s Season Opener
“. . . The first concert of the CMC’s 14th season featured the inimitable instrumental talents of flutist Laurel Ann Maurer, clarinetist Russell Harlow, violist Leslie Harlow and pianist Jeffrey Price. In celebration of Austrian/American composer Ernst Krenek’s 100th birthday (the composer died in 1991), Maurer and Russell Harlow were second to none with the composer’s “Sonatina for Flute and Clarinet.” The same duo rendered Meyer Kupferman’s “Four Constellations.” Maurer and Harlow were equally stunning on both works. The serial compositional techniques employed by these composers were pleasantly audience friendly. . . .” by Jeff Manookian, Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 8, 1999
Surprise Conductor Thrills Park City Festival Musicians
“. . . Maurer immediately went for the heart-strings in the Bloch [Suite Modale] work. She capitalized on the plethora of lyricism the composer penned into the score to captivate her audience’s fantasy. This consummate flutist juiced every note out of the multimovement opus for its maximum effect. Maurer showed herself to be a superb technician and artist as she facilitated the composition’s diverse challenges. . . .” by Jeff Manookian, Salt Lake Tribune, Aug. 16, 1999
Maurer’s flute creates musical poetry
“Few flutists can match the virtuosity, musicality and sheer talent of Laurel Ann Maurer. Not only is she a first-rate flutist, but she also can transform whatever she plays into poetry of the utmost beauty.
In her recital Saturday, Maurer was accompanied by Dian Baker, who is an outstanding pianist and an excellent accompanist. Throughout the recital she offered a subtle background to Maurer’s playing, never intruding but nevertheless giving her part a strong personality.
Two large works were on the program. In the first half Maurer played Prokofiev’s Sonata, op. 94. This work is written on a large scale, with the thematic material in each movement developed at some length. The sonata also has all the elements that characterize Prokofiev’s music. The melodies are at times very romantic and at times very modern and disjointed, stretching over several octaves. There are some sharp contrasts in emotions, too: The music, for example, shifts from the dramatic to the boisterous to the serene.
Of the four movements in the Prokofiev, the finale is reminiscent of Haydn in its melodic structure, in the accompaniment — with its repeated staccato notes — and in the harmony. This is Prokofiev parodying his own “Classical Symphony.”
In the second half, Maurer played a transcription for flute and piano of Debussy’s “Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune.” Maurer’s lush flute tones were seductive here; they clung to the listener and enticed him into the exotic tonal landscape that Debussy created.
A fairly new piece was also on the program, Elliot Carter’s “Scrivo in Vento” (“Write on the Wind”) for solo flute (1991). The piece is intended as a musical translation of a poem by Petrach. The work utilizes the entire range of the instrument and incorporates several special effects. There are also numerous abrupt changes in dynamics and many wide leaps from the flute’s lowest to its highest registers.
Maurer opened her recital with a piece by C.P.E. Bach, the “Hamburg” Sonata in G Major. The work is from the mid-1700s and reflects the style that was popular then. The music is galant and mannered to the point of being stylized. But Maurer played this music with a good deal of grace and charm.
A work from the 19th century by a now-forgotten composer was also on the concert: Theobald Boehm’s “Grand Polonaise,” op. 16. This is a virtuosic piece for the flutist that gave Maurer ample opportunities to show off her incredible talent.
Maurer ended the program with an encore: a lovely transcription for flute and piano of Debussy’s “Claire de lune.” And this piece became the perfect ending to a superb evening of music.” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Jan. 17, 1999
Classical Gas: The Year’s Top Concerts
“. . . Laurel Ann Maurer, flutist, with pianist Joanne Pearce Martin and clarinetist Russell Harlow, April 7, Jewett Center for the Performing Arts: This Utah Arts Council-sponsored event, featuring compositions by Meyer Kupferman, was a knock-your-socks-off performance. This triad of performers proved to be consummate virtuosos in extremely difficult repertoire. . . .” by Jeff Manookian, Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 27, 1998
Fabulous music was plentiful; audience wasn’t
“. . . Francaix’s “Le Colloque des deux Perruches” (“The Conversation of Two Parakeets”), played by flutists Maurer and Toone, is a humorous, flighty (think parakeet) and also tenderly lyrical work. The six brief movements here are just plain delightful. Maurer and Toone sounded great in this piece.
Martinu’s Trio for Flute, Viola and Piano ended this superb concert. Price and Maurer were here joined by violist Leslie Harlow. These three were wonderful in bringing out the colorful nature of this music, which at times was carefree, playful, moody but always melodic.” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Aug. 31, 1998
Utah Arts Council Presents an Epic Evening of Music
“From initial articulation of the first note, the sizable crowd in the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts Auditorium quickly perceived this would be a feast of great music played greatly.
In a Utah Arts Council-sponsored event Tuesday evening — event is indeed the operative word — New York-based composer Meyer Kupferman and Utah flutist Laurel Ann Maurer (who hails from the “Big Apple”) presented a unique lecture/concert taking their audience through a journey of the artistic creation — from nothing to finished product.
Ardean Watts, former head of the Utah Arts Council, eloquently introduced the recital by letting us know this was “not like a normal concert,” even though “more or less normal people perform.” Watts hit the nail square on the head. The magnitude of talent was unbelievable. The venerable pianist Joanne Pearce Martin and consummate clarinetist Russell Harlow collaborated with Maurer to raise this all-Kupferman program to even a more extraterrestrial apex.
The epic “Chaconne Sonata” for flute and piano put the performers’ technical and musical prowess to the ultimate test. The composer said he “didn’t expect anybody could play this composition, due to its extreme difficulties.” Maurer and Martin did play it. And boy, did they play it! Their jaw-dropping, goosebump-inducing exhibition took audience amazement to a new level.
Those who fear contemporary music — and with some of this century’s products, this fear is justified — found Kupferman’s creative output contagiously accessible without any artistic compromise from the composer. Yes, there is a dab of blatant serialism, but Kupferman’s harmonic language can best be described with colors over any stodgy analytical jargon.
For solo flute alone, “Strata” didn’t have the billions of notes that the previous piece had. But the composer and flutist were in concordance that this atmospheric “journey to the stars” was the most difficult work to play on this already demanding program. A truly evocative composition, “Strata” goes right to the marrow of emotion and becomes a sublime expression of the soul. Maurer magnificently imbued the work with ingenious insight to match the composer’s inspiration nuance by nuance.
The world premiere of “O North Star” concluded this awesome concert. Mimicking oceanic moods with the stars overhead, “O North Star” took everyone off guard with its masterful writing, beauty and the stellar performance by Maurer (playing flute, piccolo and alto flute), Harlow (on clarinet, E-flat clarinet and bass clarinet) and pianist Martin.
This was a knock-your-socks-off performance. These players were expertly able to traverse the physically exhausting demands Kupferman dished up in wholesale quantities and involve their listeners on a grand musical journey. Kupferman’s cup overflowed with “O North Star.” This composition is destined to occupy a distinguished spot in the performing repertoire — but should only be championed by true virtuosos, which Maurer, Martin and Harlow truly are.” by Jeff Manookian, Salt Lake Tribune, Apr. 10, 1998
The Year in Arts: Utah Musicians Hit Hight Notes
“Laurel Ann Maurer: The Utah-based concert flutist’s June recital in the Assembly Hall, with pianist Mark Neiwirth, was as if an angel had descended from the heavens to favor us with her celestial charms. She is a consummate musician. . . .” by Jeff Manookian, Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 21, 1997
S.L. Symphony’s season gets off to delightful start
“The second piece on the program was Leonard Bernstein’s “Halil Nocturne” for Solo Flute, Percussion and Strings, from the 1970s. The symphony’s principal flutist, Laurel Ann Maurer, was soloist. She is an outstanding flutist, very expressive and also very dramatic when the music demands it. She performed this work as if it had been written for her, with a total command of the music. Caswell also did an outstanding job supporting her, never letting the orchestra drown her out. . . .” by Edward Reichel, Deseret News, Nov. 22, 1997
A Fabulous Evening of Flute and Piano
“Laurel Ann Maurer confirmed her status as one of Utah’s formidable flute talents Saturday as part of the Temple Square Concert Series in the Assembly Hall.
Maurer’s near-perfect recital had flutists and non-flutists in awe of her abilities. Idaho-based Mark Neiwirth accompanied her on piano. Neiwirth provided Maurer and the large audience with pianism and scholarly musicianship. Neiwirth’s fingers revealed a secure technique as he traversed the varied program.
The mostly 20th-century American recital captivated from note one to note last. The repertoire presented a well-balanced program – a rare feat among performers nowadays.
One would be hard pressed to choose the centerpiece of the program. But the work that seemed to be the most musically and technically involved (as well as the one receiving the heartiest ovation from the audience) was Arizona-based Robert Muczynski’s “Moments.” The title is a bit deceiving. The three-movement work was complete enough to become a full-fledged sonata.
“Moments” presented flutist and pianist in some delightful counterpoint. This captivating interplay was well thought out and coupled with superlative instrumental balance between the duo.
Idaho composer Thom Ritter George’s “Six American Folk Songs” was given an authoritative reading by Maurer and Neiwirth. These generous slices of Americana – à la Aaron Copland were pure entertainment.
The Ravelian Sonatina by Eldin Burton was felicitous in composition and performance. This composition, as with the Muczynski, made considerable demands on the instrumentalists, and they met the demands with ease.
Bach’s Sonata in C and the Nocturne and Allegro Scherzando by Philippe Gaubert were the noncontemporary and non-American works. Nonetheless, these two aural jewels fit in nicely.
Maurer and Neiwirth placed a nice exclamation point on their recital with the encore, Saint-Saens’ “The Swan.”” by Jeff Manookian, Salt Lake Tribune, June 6, 1997
Laurel Ann Maurer Flutist Weill Recital Hall
“Ms. Maurer, a secure technician and an assured, communicative interpreter, began with Copland’s manifesto, lingering gracefully over the composer’s 1940’s-style melodies, but also turning up the current in the athletic, rhythmically varied finale. . . .” by Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, Apr. 30, 1994
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