Richard Craig’s collection of flute music (Métier msv 28517), recorded with close immediacy, places the listener in a wind tunnel whose walls are of flesh and metal, these sometimes heard as simultaneous alternatives, sometimes in undulating union. Altogether this is remarkable playing, remarkable possession of the music by the performer through a wide range of styles and situations – or of the performer by the music. Hard to say which. The rhythm of the record is that of the music exerting itself.
Ferneyhough’s Unity Capsule (1975-6) is the oldest piece here, and the jumping-off point for many of the works by younger composers, even if Craig’s performance acknowledges this work’s still daring novelty as much as its classic status. He takes it faster than his predecessors on record, but with exhilarating definition. In the first half of the piece one might have the impression of a dancer working against entrapment – entrapment that then becomes itself dance. The ending is wonderful, with a winding down into iteration, followed by disappearance in a puff of smoke.
Among the six other pieces, Sciarrino’s Venere che le grazie la fioriscono (1989) is beautifully presented as an incantation and dance, the former whispering around a few notes, the latter done with tuned key slaps. Evan Johnson’s l’art de toucher le clavecin, 2 (2009) sends piccolo and violin, playing harmonics, along a line of intense light, like a horizon between blackness and blackness. It is wounded light, with occasional groans and gasps from the flautist; it is also light of – however flickering the sound – immense expressive reserves. The unusually delicate piece by Richard Barrett that gives the album its title, inward , has faltering flute lines not so much accompanied as ignored by a percussionist, whose crotale scintillations are eventually replaced by commemorative drumbeats. Ending thus with the apparent death of the flute, this is a record full of fluting life.