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In Michail Travlos's very first album dedicated solely to his own music, he proves to be one of Greece's most interesting and convincing living modern composers. This CD explores six imaginative works. He has managed to create an exciting and often challenging personal voice that is always interesting and appealing. 

The CD features 6 world premiere recordings of compositions for solo flute(s), flute and harp, flute and guitar by award-winning composer Michail Travlos.

Premiere 06/2017 


Piraeus-born composer Michail Travlos, trained at the Athens National Conservatory and in Berlin (with Isuang Yun), has held a variety of teaching posts within his native Greece. Flutist Iwona Glinka, in one of a series of discs reviewed in this issues, presents Travlos’ music in superb performances. 

The piece Forest Birds Arias (2003, revised 2015) is in five movements, each for a different type of flute (standard flute, piccolo, and alto and bass flutes, with the two movements for standard flute bookending the set). Travlos’s piece exists in a form that includes video art, electronics, and natural sounds, but is here presented shorn of all of those. Glinka plays superbly: The demands verge on the virtuoso, with Travlos working in clear avian references into his clearly well-defined Modernist language. Linked to this piece is Five Birds of the Forest (2016), a set of tiny minute-long miniatures. Each is named (“Hoopoe,” “Cormorant,” “Crane,” “Owl,” “Hawk”) and each is individually characterized to perfection by Glinka. The depiction of an owl is particularly appealing: I promise it will raise a smile as well as captivate. The swooping majesty of the hawk completes the set. 

Scored for flute/alto flute and harp, the 2016 piece GBR is a gentle dialog between the solo instruments. The musky sound of the alto flute presents the haunting melody of the piece’s second section. Lyricism is at the very heart of this piece, and one has to acknowledge that Travlos is a natural melodist. The three sections of the work are separately tracked on the present release. Anna Sikorzak Olek is a superb harpist, and the rapport between the instrumentalists appears complete. 

The booklet note for The Castle of Kwidzyn reveals that Glinka is actually Travlos’s wife and that this 2013 piece for alto flute alone is dedicated to her. The referenced building is in the north of Poland; the deep sound of the alto flute seems to add a layer of mystery to the implied tale of the castle. Written in 1996, Duetti for flute and guitar is a tripartite fantasy, an active Introduction leading to the rather off-puttingly titled “Monotony” movement. (The title is actually a nod to the quasi-ostinato technique used so effectively here by Travlos and the movement is actually gripping.) The central panel includes nods to the jazz that underpins the finale, explicitly indicated as “A Bit Jazzy.” Angelos Botsis is the superb guitarist. It is perhaps in this piece that one particularly notices the excellence of the recording, its sense of presence and the sheer detail; and yet it is not intrusively close. 

Finally, Progressions for solo flute is a 2007 arrangement of the 1983 oboe original. Cast in five sections, it culminates in an unmeasured section of high pitches as high velocity, superbly realized by Glinka. Lasting just under 10 minutes, it provides ample space to admire Glinka’s way with this music: It is as if she is narrating a story, perhaps a somewhat hypnotic fairy story. The oboe version of Progressions is available on a disc entitled Millennial Masters on Ablaze Records, performed in a typically high-energy way by the excellent modern music specialist Christopher Redgate, and makes the perfect complement to Glinka’s softer, equally convincing reading. Colin Clarke 

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