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CD Feature/ Margaret Lancaster: "Future Flute"

img  Tobias

The physical qualities of an artist can sometimes be as important as his or her musical talent. By the time you’ve read this, we’re sure you have already laid your eye on the cool cover of this CD, which sees Margaret Lancaster audition for the next Bond movie or the summer’s high heel collection (you decide), but that’s not what we’re talking about here! Rather, we’re on about the capacity of her lungs, which all composers involved in this remarkable project are infallibly inclined to mention in the poignant liner notes to each piece. Which is not to say that Lancaster is aiming at the Olympics with “Future Flute”.

What it does imply, though, is the greatest possible freedom for any composer working with her. Which could well be the reason why Margaret may indeed be the “flutist of choice for hoards of composers”., as the booklet promises and why each collaboration seems to have evolved in a mood of mutual respect and utmost seriousnes, yet never without a hearty dose of humour. This is certainly not an “easy” album, as the sheer complexity of some of the motives require repeated listening and some pieces wait until the end before revealing hints at their motivations. But it is, and you should read this in capitals, not a typical “difficult” album either. The flute especially has been prone to l’art pour l’art, maybe because the elite has always felt its tone to be too close to heaven to have any social or policial relevance on earth (which, by the way, is a ridiculous argument by all means). “Future Flute”, however, is contemporary and up-to-date, buzzing and sizzling with life and energy, demanding and thought-provoking, while simultaneously seeking to entertain the listener – it is certainly not only with irony that Eric Lyon claims to have pumped “Heavy Rotation” full with repetitions of highly complex themes with the faint hope of the piece “becoming popular with the audience”. But the best example for its spirit is the central “Once-a-thon”, hailed by the other colleagues present on this disc as seminal, all-influential and a milestone. In the fiteen minutes of its duration, Robert C. Constable, Jr. weaves together voice fragments, drone-like semblances, rhythmic events as well as electronic rumblings and Lancaster’s flute answers the input like a creative echo in a playful mood. A stab at the arbitrary nature of the information age and the relativity of its “facts”, it is a great example for a “pressing” and “relevant” composition with the potential of being understood on a very direct level.

Throughout, Lancaster  stays away from any divaisms - she is a partner of the electronics, not their antipode. Which is why this CD doesn’t sound like a typical flute-album at all, but rather like a well-atuned collection of always enjoyable, mostly spikey, sometimes quirky, occasionaly majestic and never tiresome “new music”. What remains is a feeling of optimisim and curiousness at the next projects by those involved as well as of being impressed by this vibrant pair of lungs. A breath of fresh air, so to speak.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Margaret Lancaster

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