Apart from Franco Donatoni, who died in 2000, all composers represented on this CD are still alive. And yet, one should not expect any extreme-contemporary programs. On the contrary, the pieces are, except for the last, all very accessible and entertaining.
The good-humored sonata by the Hungarian-Romanian composer Levente Gyöngyösi (b.1975) opens the musical dance, followed by the "Two and a halfpiece" by Gert Wilden (b.1954).
Franco Donatoni's "Due pezzi" are also entertaining and virtuoso pieces for solo piccolo, and the technically staged sonata of the American flautist Mike Mower uses many jazz elements to exploit the potential of the instrument.
'The Pied Piper of Hamelin' by the German composer Franz Kanefsky is written for flute as well as narrator and illustrates the fairy tale very suitably. Jan Erik Mikalsen's 'Huit ilium' brings a good mood again before the program ends thoughtfully and in melancholy mood with Derek Charke's 'Lachrymose', which refers to the unfinished 'Lacrimosa' from the Mozart Requiem.
The soloist Natalie Schwaabe, piccolist and flutist in the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, plays quite captivatingly, brilliantly virtuoso and with perceptible playfulness. She is accompanied by Jan Philip Schulze. This program with modern music for piccolo, or piccolo and piano, is easy listening, providing mostly even really good entertainment.
A bit like the Opera Jazz Blues album, an album featuring the piccolo — known as the screaming twig or Ak47 for its ability to cut through the loudest orchestra — might be something that you never think you'd need, but this is a decent, if idiosyncratic, album. You wouldn't want a collection of piccolo works, but just the one is fun.
The pieces featured range from the ethereal (Gert Wilden's Two and a Half Piece , though it's also playful) to the almost-jazz (Derek Charke's Lachrymose ), so there's variation and we guess the middle range of the instrument is used, as there is little to suggest a screaming twig. The pieces are inspired by variety of topics, from Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five to the pied piper.
Schwaabe studied in London and obtained her degree in Munich, where she is based, playing with the Bavarian Radio Symphony. Jan Philip Schulze plays piano.
Out now on Divine Art's Metier label, MSV28562.