CD Review

“Latin American & Spanish Masterpieces for Flute & Piano,” Stephanie Jutt, flute; Elena Abend and Pablo Zinger, piano. Albany Records.

Latin American & Spanish Masterpieces

Stephanie Jutt is a free-lance flutist who lives in New York. Formerly on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, her creative output also includes arrangements that she has published with International Music Company, as well as six compact disks in which she has either played a principal or collaborative role.

Her most recent recording, “Latin American & Spanish Masterpieces for Flute & Piano,” released in 2016, features twenty pieces for flute and piano by four Latin American composers and one Spanish composer; namely, Argentines Carlos Guastavino (1912-2000), Angel Lasala (1914-2000) and Astor Piazzolla (1921-92), Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959), and Spaniard Jesús Guridi (1886-1961).

On this CD Jutt demonstrates a very agile and adept technical command of her instrument, and perhaps more important, she produces a sweet, refined and finely focused tone that is particularly suited to the artistic demands of the music she has chosen for this compilation. In addition, she is admirably supported by both pianists, who sensitively accompany her in every measure.

With the exception of two compositions, Guastavino’s Introducción y allegro, and Lasala’s Poema del pastor Coya, all of the other selections on this compact disk are transcriptions of pieces for either voice and piano, or, an instrument other than the flute, and piano. Musicologist David Grayson penned extensive liner notes in which, in part, he rationalizes the use of transcriptions and arrangements by asserting that these “have served an important, even necessary, function throughout music history.”

While this certainly may be true, it is worth considering that the repertoire of music for flute and piano from Latin America is already very extensive, and includes works with a universal language that is not necessarily folkloric. The first of these were composed during the latter half of the 19th century, and although they can be lyrical, virtuosic or even dramatic, their style is always unmistakably European. From the early to mid 20th century, Latin American composers were pulled in several different directions, such that the music for flute and piano from this period tended to be inspired either by indigenism or European dodecaphonism. And from about the post war period to the present day, composers have been increasingly staking out distinctly personal styles.

In short, while this compact disk certainly provides for enjoyable listening—and Jutt should be rightfully congratulated for this—I would submit that a future recording project might be designed so as to include a more representative repertoire for flute and piano by gravitating towards original works, from the past as well as the present, for this combination of instruments. And if, as some say, the past portends the future, such a recording would be amply appreciated and celebrated by all.

John L. Walker

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