Solo per Flauto

Art work: Agneta Gussander

Mats Möller – “Solo per Flauto
SFZ Records 2001. 2 CD. Duration: 2:13:58.
Mats Möller [flute], Stig Bengtson [flute on CD 2 track 14],
Christina Sønstevold [bass flute on CD2 track 15]
Works by Claude Debussy, Edgard Varèse, André Jolivet, Sven-Erik Bäck, Giacinto Scelsi, Luciano Berio, Hilding Rosenberg, Brian Ferneyhough, Toru Takemitsu, Jukka Tiensuu, Jan W, Morthenson, Ebbe Grims-land, Torsten Nilsson, Karl-Erik Welin, Anders Eliasson, Stellan Sagvik, Maurice Karkoff, Miklós Maros, Johannes W. Möller, Csaba Deák.


Just the list of names above makes me dizzy… The 20th century has seen a good deal of flute composition, but the shear presence of all these mighty names in succession on one issue puts you up for a great experience!

Only once in a good while a CD release comes along that feels really important, one way or another. Years may pass in between. This is such an important issue, no doubt. It is very interesting to venture through this packed set, from composer to composer, just traveling (for the most part) the one flute of Mats Möller.

The basic factors are all accurate and in place: The musician, Mr. Möller, is a virtuoso on his flute, and the technical quality of the recordings is splendid. With that foundation laid (many labels mess up technically, I’m sorry to have to observe…) Möller shapes an artistry that leaves nothing further to wish for, in a wonderful mastering of the smallest nuances within the sounds, and in the over-arching splendor of melody lines and tonal successions.
This is the first issue from
SFZ Records, and it places high hopes with the label for coming releases.

The whole concept is unusually well thought through and worked out. Sometimes CD booklets seem messy or appear full of shortcomings or produce insufficient information, but
SFZ Records provides all the necessary facts, including short bios on the composers and info about the flute composition of each of them, as well as birth dates (some death dates too) of the composers and the years of composition. A fact that makes the set even more valuable for the notorious listener is that the pieces are presented chronologically, by year of composition, ranging from Claude Debussy’s “Syrinx” (1913) to Csaba Deák’s “Fuvola” (2000). You could consequently maintain that these two CDs summarize the flute discipline of Western art music of the 20th century, so I regard this set also as an audio book of reference, a 20th century flute encyclopedia.

The booklet comes in English only, but the text is extensive, and clearly this Swedish project is an international attempt. I don’t know of any other quite as good flute compilation on any other label, so the global success ought to be inevitable.

But all these facts aside, there’s so much more to these CDs and their contents; the joy, the intense identification with the pillar of compressed air, conveying so much beauty, so intricate patterns of shrill caresses, light fingerings, saliva sprinkled gushes of air through oral cavities and the valves of the instrument. Flute music is so physical, so directly related to the voice, to the vocal – yes, oral – tradition. It’s a kind of surreal language, conveying the core of the meaning of the spoken words - their spiritual morphemes - without the words, the way spirits talk to each other, as
the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the observations of Emanuel Swedenborg explain. When Mats Möller plays these pieces it feels like the flute is held to your own lips; as if the stream of air gushes out of your own mouth, from your own breath, from your own lungs. There is so much identification – physical identification – here, which I believe even the ignorant and preoccupied listener will sense subconsciously.

A couple of the composers herein have composed famed series of solo pieces for different instruments, wherein the flute is also represented; Lucian Berio with his “
Sequenzas” and the Swedish intellectualist Anders Eliasson with his “Disegnos”. I suppose the “Disegnos” were modeled on the “Sequenzas”, as an idea – the skill of the craft and the artistic significance of the work are readily apparent within both these important efforts.
An observation is that the number of Swedish composers here heavily outweighs that of international artists. That might be just a natural thing for a CD produced in rural Sweden, by a musician who knows this literature in and out, back and front, and this does in no way compromise the artistic quality of the collected set.

There are so many highlights in this valuable package that I won’t chose any of them for extra honors. My advice to the interested listener is to simply sit back and let it happen! If you’ve read Emanuel Swedenborg you’ll know what I mean when I say that this music is inhabited by spirits with beautiful faces!

And somewhere in these tracks there is a Greek God playing his flute, in a Mediterranean setting with a backdrop of blue and golden…

Mats Möller