Named for an Aboriginal word meaning pipe or flute, Ulpirra Sonatines places Ross Edwards and Mark Isaacs – who joins flautist Melissa Doecke on this disc – alongside Poulenc and Dutilleux.
The disc opens with the lush first movement of Isaacs’ Sonatine, Doecke soaring over Isaacs’ undulating piano. The recording catches the complex edge of Doecke’s sound as she produces ethereal harmonics and earthy flutter-tonguing. Isaacs’ The River for alto flute and piano revels in the velvet sound of the lower instrument, while providing plenty of opportunity for Doecke to sweep up through the range with a light, flitting agility.
The colour and virtuosity of Edwards’ Nura has no doubt contributed to its popularity in the flute repertoire. Wild Bird Morning channels Messiaen while Ocean Idyll is eerily tranquil. In this performance the normally fiery Earth Dance is given a carefully paced, detailed treatment. Doecke’s clean sound winds meditatively above gently flowing water in Edwards’ Water Spirit Song, originally a work for cello, while Ulpirra dances playfully.
After this, it is jolting to be thrust into 20th-century neo-classicism with Poulenc’s oft-performed Sonata. Doecke’s tone is honeyed, however, as she delves into the low register and glistens on the high notes but the finale is on the stately side. She infuses the rarely heard Un Joueur de Flute Berce les Ruines that follows with haunting pathos.
Isaacs and Doecke cap off a fine album with a vividly characterful rendition of Dutilleux’s 1943 Sonatine.