Kudos to Leaf Music of Halifax for its confidence in these young musicians, flutist Lara Deutsch and pianist Philip Chiu. The program is built around the theme of dreams, which opens such possibilities, for example, including a work by Franz Schubert – Introduction and Variations on Trockne Blumen – in a program of music by contemporary composers.
The disc opens with Takashi Yoshimatsu’s Digital Bird Suite, Op.15, the opening movement of which, Bird-phobia, described by Deutsch as “fiendishly challenging,” is at the nightmare end of the dream spectrum, but shows both consummate command of her instrument and her partner’s uncanny ability, despite the formidable challenges of his own part, always to be in sync with her. In the contrasting lyrical second movement, A Bird in the Twilight, their exquisite phrasing and consistent sensitivity to each other lift the notes off the page.
The dreamlike atmosphere is perhaps most eloquently expressed in the first movement of Jocelyn Morlock’s I Conversed with You in a Dream, which traverses the gamut from lyrical reverie to reality-defying pyrotechnics.
In the Schubert, Chiu reveals himself as a lieder collaborative pianist of stature, convincingly telling the story and revealing the atmosphere of the music. For example, his playing of the repeated quarter and two eighth note motif at the very beginning is full of eerie foreboding; you know at once that this is not going to end well!
Individually and as a duo Deutsch and Chiu are consummate interpreters, who move with the music, so to speak, and reveal the meaning behind the notes.