The album "One Minute" contains 60 one-minute works, written by 42 composers from 17 countries, collected and performed by Iwona Glinka, a flutist specializing in contemporary music.

The composers of the album include: Aaron Alter, Georgios Andriotis, Greg Bartholomew, Bracha Bdil, Aris Carastathis, Rania Chrysostomou, Tim Clay, Clayton Simmons Davidson, David Drexler, Robert Fleisher,Keith R. Gambling, Eleazar Garzón, Liam Grogan, Nick Hwang, Karena Ingram, Jieun Jun,Rebecca Kaiserin, Dimitris Karnasopoulos, Anicia Kohler, George Kontogiorgos, Dimitris Kostopoulos, Giorgos Kouvaras, Edna Alejandra Longoria, Dimitrios Mantzirakis, Joshua Marquez, Nicolas Marty, Héctor Oltra García, Foivos Papadopoulos, Dimitri Papageorgiou,Giorgos Papamitrou, Elena Papari, Scott Robbins, Louis Sauter, Paweł Siek, José Jesus de Azevedo Souza, Stamatia Statherou, Neil Stipp, Michail Travlos, Dimitris Tsimpanos, Peter Walton, Betty R. Wishart, Josué Zamora. 

Premiere 03/2017 

  

That list of composers and compositions is not a mistake. This is a single CD containing 60 pieces, each one of them nominally a minute long, written by 42 different composers. Polish flutist Iwona Glinka, who has for years chosen Athens as her base of operations, established a competition in which she challenged composers from around the world to distil their best work into a single minute of music for the solo flute. She then picked the best 60 for recording and publication. If the concept sounds familiar, it is because it uses a model very similar to that of the Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame concert scheme by Vox Novus, an advocacy organization for composers founded by composer Robert Voisey. Compositions, as yet not commercially recorded, are solicited for a particular performer or ensemble, the primary requirement being that they be one minute in length. Glinka took part in a Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame competition and concert in 2016, choosing 15 scores to perform from 70 submissions. Later that year, she put out her own request for scores, similarly unrecorded. From the submissions she received, she has selected these 60. 

One can debate whether a true measure of a composer’s skill can be taken in one minute, and such an attempt would tend to favor the miniaturist adept at concision over a person whose musical ideas develop over time. One is hard put imagining Wagner or Mahler doing well in such a competition, but as a means of getting one’s name before the public, and one’s work, however brief the sample, into the record catalogs, the concept has much appeal. Indeed, there are a fair number of interesting pieces on this CD that leave me wanting to hear more, which is, of course, the point. These run the gamut of styles. Greg Bartholomew’s Sunlight on Quaking Aspen, and adaptation of a work for clarinet, is a light-hearted nature portrait that evokes the shimmering of light on leaves. Rania Chrysostomou’s Path for bass flute fascinates with its varieties of wind tones and tonguing. David Drexler’s Attack of the Tiny Cheesehead Music should win some award just for the wacky title, though his evocative almost winter is even more interesting. (Unlike the Vox Novus competition, Glinka allowed multiple entries.) Some works impress with their simple lyricism, such as Stamatia Stathetou’s Fleeting moment. Others, like Scott Robbins’s Fugue—three-voice for a single flute—excite with technical virtuosity. Jose Jesus de Azevedo Souza’s Just a minute packs as many notes of piccolo acrobatics into 60 seconds as possible. Others, like Elena Papari’s nocturnal Northern Star for alto flute, are all about meditation and breathe control. This is an interest for several composers. Joshua Marquez explores varieties of breath in his Slink, while Nicolas Marty’s haunting Kekkai is played on the barest whisper of air. The flute’s persistent avian association is explored, as well. Nick Hwang’s Adjacency—one of a series—simulates bird song; Dimitrios Mantzirakis’s Flying Flute conjures up flight. Perhaps because of the soloist’s doctoral studies of Greek music for the flute, there are 15 works by Greek composers—surpassed only by the 21 from the U.S.—and many of these reflect Greek folk dance or antiquity, sometimes heard through the application of modern techniques. 

A different pass likely would focus on different examples. What one takes away from this recital is amazement at the variety of responses that these composers have found to this challenge, as well as a heightened respect for the flexibility of the flute, in all four most common incarnations, and especially for this exponent of the instrument. Glinka has gained a substantial reputation, in Europe especially but essentially worldwide, for her devotion to new and experimental music. In addition to years of playing in orchestras and chamber ensembles, she has been a tireless recitalist, promoting the music she has discovered and often inspired. Since 2015, she has resigned from orchestral playing—she was principal in the Athens Symphony—and is concentrating on her advocacy. This project, and several other discs released in the last couple of years, are part of the result of that new focus. Her performances are imaginative and committed, her technique always equal to the often considerable demands of the music. The recording, made in the studios of Polish Radio in Warsaw, catches her lovely and varied tone perfectly. Fans of the flute, or new music, or both, should definitely explore this release. Ronald E. Grames 

This article originally appeared in Issue 41:2 (Nov/Dec 2017) of Fanfare Magazine.


A total of 60 world premiere recordings by 42 contemporary composers forms the basis of this release, further testament to Iwona Glinka’s fervent devotion to the music of our time. 

I might get into trouble for this. Aaron Alter’s Try it on! is inspired by “a woman in a clothing store, trying different clothes on and admiring the way she looked in the mirror.” My experience is not that these would be one-minute long reflections, although I stand to be corrected (he says, in an attempt to soften the barrage). The piece itself is playful, even coquettish. It sets the scene for the prevailing impression here; think of being in a car and driving past 60 gas stations, and glimpsing each one as you drive past. Each piece functions as a window into a composer’s world, often asking more questions than providing answers. Greg Bartholomew’s Sunlight on Quaking Aspen is beautifully atmospheric: Couldn’t we tarry just a touch longer? 

Responses to the challenge of expressing oneself in 60 second or less are inevitably massively varied. Rena Chrysostomou offers a graphic score for Path, while Tim Clay’s Reconciliation uses both extended techniques and an implication of a three-line texture (three-line texture is found again in Scott Robbins’s Fugue). David Drexler’s wonderfully titled Attack of the Cheesehead Music has an alternative stipulation: The commissioning criterion here was that it should be 100 notes maximum; it contrasts with the barren surface of his almost winter. Dance lightens the landscape, though: Edna Alejandra Longoria’s El Balle is an octatonic short dance. 

Extended techniques inevitably become a part of these pieces. Eleazar Garzón’s Sh-k-h-ch is a case in point, brilliantly, excitingly delivered by Glinka; Dimitri Papageougiou offers an Étude in Quarter Tones, while Pawel Siek’s Concert Étude for piccolo also uses quarter-tones, this time coupled with glissandos. The darker sound of the alto flute seems the perfect choice for Karena Ingram’s Chapter Zero, a response to the artwork of Irene Chan; that instrument also enshrouds Elena Papari’s Northern Star in mystery, while the bass flute is featured in José Jesus de Azevedo Souza’s Reflection. Intriguingly, Jieun Jun’s Exercise No. 2 is for flute mouthpiece (an experiment on one note that is interesting for the minute it lasts); it is a bit of a relief to find the lyricism of Rebecca Kaiserin’s Season of Melancholy on the next track. 

It’s good to see Glinka including music by Liam Grogan, who is still a graduate student and whose Miniature #4 was written while still an undergraduate; his piece cheekily ends with a perfect cadence after just under a minute’s atonality. And inevitably, there will be a birdie or two around: Anicia Kohler’s The Humming-Bird offers a window into an avian world. The implication is that the bird here is not telling the truth: he is “lying through his beek” as the notes put it. Louis Sauter’s Prelude seeks to invoke the songs of several birds in flight. 

To give an idea of the variety on offer here, Dimitrios Mantzirakis offers a fantasy-like snippet inspired by Mozart, while Nicolas Marty’s Kekkai is inspired by anime (specifically the “holy barrier” surrounding a meditation space). Lacking all artifice, Foivos Papadopoulos’s One Minute Greek Dance does exactly what it says on the tin while Neil Stipp’s Capers bursts with wit. Peter Walton’s Ritornellos derive from that composer’s Concerto grosso of 1981, the first cheeky, the second more reflective. A similar sense of contrast exists between the two pieces by Peter Wishart, Awaking and Frolicking. 

In a sense, some pieces are longer than a minute. Alter’s Try it on! is a theme and two variations; Bracha Bdil provides Three Monologues while Dimitris Kostopoulos offers two movements from his collection Cartes postales. Individual movements do stick to the limit, although some seem longer than a minute: Aris Carastathis’s Stargaze is a case in point, as the protagonist contemplates a starry summer sky. 

There’s a fascinating array of voices within a short time-span here, but let that not suggest the effect is anything like a “sampler.” Rather, this is a celebration of the diverse repertoire available for the flute today. I guess where you hit the repeat button, as well you might, is where you stop for gas: mark those composers well. Colin Clarke 

This article originally appeared in Issue 41:2 (Nov/Dec 2017) of Fanfare Magazine.

This release from Polish flutist Iwona Glinka boasts “60 world premiere recordings of one-minute compositions for solo flute(s) by 42 contemporary composers.” Listeners whose knowledge of solo flute repertoire is limited to Debussy’s Syrinx will be pleasantly surprised by the breadth of the works presented here. In fact, it can verge on sensory overload at times—there’s little space between the individual tracks, so the listener is bombarded with a dizzying array of études, bagatelles, and character pieces. This variety is due to the nature of the instrument itself; the flute and its piccolo, alto, and bass relatives are flexible and multi-hued instruments capable of an enormous range of extended techniques. Glinka has perfect mastery over the arsenal of pops, buzzes, and squeaks that has been amassed over the past century or so. 

Yet many of the young composers featured on this disc are so caught up in the novelties of modern flute playing that the extended techniques become an end in themselves. The most extreme example is Jieun Jun’s Exercise No. 2 for flute mouthpiece, which consists of a repeated C♯ subjected to various pitch-bending, flutter-tonguing, and vibrato transformations. Occasionally a composer will assemble a satisfactory work almost entirely out of extended techniques, such as Joshua Marquez’s creepy little Slink, which involves singing into the flute at one point, or Héctor Oltra García’s Catharsis, which seems as if it were produced entirely with electronics. But in general, the most successful pieces use extended techniques sparingly and usually with a specific goal. For George Kontogiorgos’s Castalia Spring, Glinka conjures a pastoral setting through breezy harmonics and bug-like tongue-clicks superimposed on a Hellenic-sounding melody. In Clayton Simmons Davidson’s A Spire, the flutist constructs a musical skyscraper, ascending higher and higher, up into stratospheric harmonics at the very tippy-top. (A word of warning: Listen to this album on a low volume setting. While the close-microphoning allows for an intimate listening experience for most tracks, Glinka’s piercing upper-register can be physically painful.) Extended techniques even create the illusion of counterpoint, as in David Drexler’s almost winter and Tim Clay’s Reconciliation, which utilize different timbres for the separate contrapuntal strands—though in Scott Robbins’s Fugue for Solo Flute, Glinka easily conveys three voices merely through subtle differences in articulation. 

But there are some perfectly good “old-fashioned” numbers that eschew the fancy bells and (literal) whistles. Achingly beautiful melodies such as Rebecca Kaiserin’s Season of Melancholy allow Glinka to show off her full, round tone and conversational playing style. Especially poignant is the flutist’s interpretation of Keith R. Gambling’s hollow and drooping Reflections of an “object” at sea, based on a 2015 photograph of a drowned Syrian toddler. On a lighter note, there are some fun dance numbers, including Edna Alejandra Longoria’s head-bobbing El Baile and Foivos Papadopoulos’s folksy One Minute Greek Dance, with a meter based on the ancient anapest poetic foot. And Glinka demonstrates that the flute can be a mischievous instrument capable of humor; there are some hilarious little scherzos in which composers try to fit as much material into the allotted minute. The best example is José Jesus de Azevedo Souza’s aptly titled Just a Minute! for piccolo—it’s a ridiculously manic melody that would pair well with a cartoon or a Charlie Chaplin sequence. 

For those interested in hearing more of Glinka’s artistry, the flutist has been busy recording over the past few years—in addition to One Minute, her 2017 album Progressions and her 2016 releases Aleph and Beth are all available on the Poland-based Sarton label. Joe Cadagin 

This article originally appeared in Issue 41:2 (Nov/Dec 2017) of Fanfare Magazine.