Sunday 13 April 2014

Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia Orchestra are terrific advocates of works by Flint Juventino Beppe that are full of subtle, distinctive ideas

Flint Juventino Beppe (formerly known as Fred Jonny Berg) started creating music in his childhood with songs, instrumental works, electronic music and orchestral works. Having no political preferences, Beppe has nevertheless always felt powerful liberalistic undertones valuing an individual freedom that permeates all his art, dreaming of a world without religions and violating politics.

To date, Beppe's catalogue of compositions numbers around 200 works, many of which are commissions, and include works for piano, flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, double bass, string orchestra and orchestral works, including flute concertos, piano concertos and symphonic poems. Beppe has also written ballet music, electro acoustic works, film soundtracks and songs.

Beppe's works have been performed around the world including the USA (The Kennedy Center), Russia, England (St. John's, Smith Square), Finland and Japan. He has collaborated with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, Emily Beynon, Mark van de Wiel, Sir James Galway, Ralph Rousseau, Leonard Slatkin and Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Beppe is also a scriptwriter, director and producer for an on-going art film production labelled Symbiophonies™. Flint Juventino Beppe works are published by The FJB Fingerprint™.

Flute Mystery (2L), featuring Vladimir Ashkenazy  and the composer conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra , was Grammy nominated in 2010 but thoroughly deserves a belated review on this blog.

SACD and Blu-Ray Disc

Flute Mystery, Op. 66b features that fine flautist, Emily Beynon together with the equally fine harpist Catherine Beynon  and opens with a plaintive melody for flute and harp before the orchestra arrives to give a lightly rhythmic support. As the music broadens there is still an underlying pulse in the orchestra with some lovely little details for flute and harp as well as some lovely sweeps of orchestral sound that Beppe subtly varies to great effect. There is a gently glowing middle section that holds the music in a kind of shimmering stasis before the music picks up and rushes forward. There is some particularly fine articulation from Emily Beynon in the joyful flute part before the music quietens with some lovely harmonic shifts in the strings as the flute gently leads the music forward, joined by the harp, before a final section that heralds a soft gentle coda.

Whilst this is instantly attractive, melodic music, if one looks under the surface one finds so much more. There are many attractive depths to this atmospheric music.

The Beynons are excellent as is the Philharmonia Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Flint Juventino Beppe conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra in the next three works. Timpani open the Warning Zero, Op.54b before brass and woodwind enter with very much the sound of a wind band. A side drum adds a warning sound as the music slowly increases in dynamics in a kind of loose march rhythm. Soon there is a sudden break when a second subject appears leading to a less intense theme that, nevertheless rises in drama. As the music grows increasingly dramatic a battery of drums adds to the dynamics in a section where I was reminded of the Icelandic composer Jon Leifs. Later a jollier, lighter orchestral section arrives with the wind section still featuring heavily. There are many attractive, individual ideas not least when the saxophone enters. Towards the end the music builds massively with that barrage of drums leading to a stunning coda.

I doubt that any listener will not find this an attractive and ear catching piece, full of interest and drama.

The opening of Pastorale, Op.32 No.1 has a warmth to it with a trumpet adding an attractive, almost Mediterranean dissonant harmony. There is a great breadth and openness, very much giving an outdoors feel to the music.

Vicino alla Montagna, Op.58b opens with the orchestra in full flow, in this terrifically well orchestrated work, taking its sweeping theme and adding so many variations and detailed touches. When the happy, rhythmic second subject appears it features a terrific, jazzy clarinet theme later shared by other woodwind. After increasing in tempo the music slows with a trumpet playing the theme which is taken up by flute before rising through the orchestra with increasing power and drama to a decisive coda.

There is no doubt that Beppe really knows how to use an orchestra. This is a terrific piece that shows so much of Beppe’s fine orchestration as well as his inventive ideas.

The final work on this disc is the Flute Concerto No.1, Op.70 again featuring flautist, Emily Beynon with Vladimir Ashkenazy returning to conduct the Philharmonia Orchestra. The first movement, Memento, opens in the depths of the orchestra before quickly rising up. The flute enters with little trills with the orchestra leading forward in a really lovely melody in which the flute joins. There are exquisite hushed strings with harp before the flute and orchestra take the melody gently forward. When the second subject appears, heralded by a trumpet, there is a slightly anxious feel. There are some lovely textures from Emily Beynon as the music increases in drama and passion before the quieter coda that runs into the second movement.

The solo flute takes up the opening of Reminiscence, weaving lovely sounds in the attractive little theme. The orchestra joins, quietly with the flute rising over it in what is, by any standards, a beautiful melody. The orchestra plays a repeated, often dramatic, tremolo passage before the flute re-joins with the melody, the strings eventually returning with the tremolo chords.

Rushing strings open Obituary before the flute arrives with a chirpy little theme that competes with the strings. Soon the flute plays the theme with hushed orchestra but becomes more agitated towards the end.

Awakening brings a hushed opening for orchestra creating the feel of a veiled northern landscape. A bell chimes before the flute enters, tentatively, with little fluttering phrases, creating a gorgeous texture. The music rises up to a peak before quietening with the flute playing against a more dramatic orchestra. Emily Beynon provides lovely textures and colours here. A melancholic orchestral melody leads on with the flute providing more lovely textures as the music falls into quiet.

Again, Ashkenazy is a terrific advocate of this music, drawing out so many of the fine features of this concerto.

There is no doubt that Beppe is a fine composer and brilliant orchestrator, full of subtle, distinctive ideas.

These are superb recordings issued in a two disc set that gives the choice of CD/SACD or Blue ray-disc. The booklet is excellent, with many illustrations including colour plans of the orchestral layout and informative notes.

The sequel Remote Galaxy (2L), which I hope to review soon, features conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy, Emily Beynon, Mark van de Wiel, Ralph Rousseau and the Philharmonia Orchestra.

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