★★★

Peter Sheridan’s Sonorous Sonatas reveals the rarely heard sounds of the lower flutes. Commissioned by Sheridan himself, the works feature alto, subcontrabass, and pretty much every flute in between.   

Gary Schocker’s bubbly Music for a Lost Planet opens the album with Sheridan’s alto flute vibrato rhythmic in Above. The piano is so strikingly similar in range that the instruments seem to blend into one, but the aggressive Burn reaches more familiar realms with flute playing at a higher register. 

A flutter-tonguing bass flute opens Taran Carter’s Owls Sfutel. The Allegretto movement initially seems an expression of random madness – but stick with it, as it soon falls into a jazzy rhythm. Con Molto Energy is announced by a metronomic pounding of the piano – not a style the ears are accustomed to after half an hour of ‘sonorous’ flutes! Andrew Downes’ Sonata for contrabass flute is far warmer – though it’s a shame about the clicky keys. Carolyn Morris’s Forest Over Sea features gorgeous harmonies. The album finishes with Houston Dunleavy’s bizarre Clumsy Dances – an opportunity to hear the subcontrabass flute, yes, but a poor fit for the release. 

Everyone should invest time into listening to rarer instruments, and Sonorous Sonatas provides high quality performances in return, but it must be said though that it’s not the sort of CD one would slot into the player for a quick fix of entertainment.

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