Press/Reviews

American Record Guide, May / June 2017

Poems and Dreams Rebecca Jeffreys, fl; Alexander Timofeev, p Jeffreys 0—50 minutes (800-529-1696) Byzantine Dances (2016) by Russell Nadel begins with the pianist inside and out of the piano, and later has him drumming on the lid. It’s an assortment of folk-like and modal cliches without the pejorative meaning. If that sounds impossible, you have to hear the accessible result. Intermezzo is ordinarily the title of a work that goes between, but here it’s a suite of three short pieces by Francis Kayali that I hate to insult and misrepresent by calling them tonal and simple. They’re also thoughtful and worth hearing again. The Romantic Sonata by Jeffrey Hoover, ‘Poems of Light,’ has a great and interesting piano part and unlike many contemporary pieces isn’t terribly difficult. The three-movement work ends simply and quietly. Adrienne Albert’s dance-like and touching Acadian Dreams (2016) ends with a musical visit to New Orleans. Kevin Walker’s Suite in D (1997) is a set of five miniatures that opens with a ballad and closes with a romp that has both neo-baroque and impressionist touches. If it’s eclectic, it’s as enjoyable as the rest. These selections are salon music in the sense that they’re accessible and the kind of music that could be played at home even if you were not paid to do it. I hope high schoolers are introduced to these very enjoyable pieces, which many of them could play. Rebecca Jeffreys has a sound that is is fullbodied and husky. It can whisper or sing like a trumpet. She plays with marvelous phrasing and intelligence. Alexander Timofeev accompanies her superbly with a variety of touch and texture that’s always an apt portrayal of the mood. My gratitude to these artists for introducing me to a program of new works that I enjoyed from beginning to end. GORMAN

 

The Triangle

 

"Upon listening to Poems and Dreams, a collection of original works superbly performed by flutist Rebecca Jeffreys and pianist Alexander Timofeev, you will be convinced that new music is alive and thriving. Composers Russell Nadel (Phi Gamma, Washington DC Alumni), Jeffrey Hoover (Beta Omega, ACME), Adrienne Albert (Phi Nu, Los Angeles Alumni, ACME), Francis Kayali, and Kevin Walker demonstrate that they are the new representatives of what is contemporary today.

Without question, knowledge and understanding of our great compositional legacy is their guiding light. We readily recognize tools of the trade like imitation, harmonic progressions, catchy rhythmic patterns, and form, with both subtle and obvious cadences. What I wish to emphasize in this review is the emotional essence that characterizes each.

“Byzantine Dances” by Russell Nadel opens with a simple piano bass note and an effective swish of piano strings to introduce a purely melodic theme in the flute. The theme evolves and expands as the instruments’ voices intertwine in fervently passionate exchange; the listener is instantly captured by exotic rhythmic energy. Sumptuous color, modal use, and special effects pervade these mesmerizing dances, causing one to visualize a vibrant Middle Eastern square.

The prelude to “Intermezzo” by Francis Kayali is an extended piano introduction that travels through an array of harmonic locations to welcome pleasant flute meanderings. The nocturne section is beautifully conceived with poignant explorations of melodic and harmonic content and rhythmic variants. The concluding capriccio is driven by a superb mesh of multi- rhythmic figures, including a bass line of boogie-woogie and jazz – quite a virtuosic escapade.

Jeffrey Hoover’s “Romantic Sonata: Poems of Light” in three movements encompasses elements of many stylistic periods. Jeffrey visualizes each stroke of a paintbrush within the musical notes and shares this vision with us. The opening piano statement “Of Light and Shadow” is abundant in catchy rhythm, imitation, and thematic segments that evolve into an interactive conversation with the flute. Trills, fugato, repeated notes, and jazzy harmonies fuse beautifully into unison. “Colors in the Clouds” opens ominously, but soon the piano sets the stage for songful escapades as the wistful flute prances around, prodded on by the pattering piano. Meditative Eastern spiritualism is evoked when the unaccompanied flute trills, creates harmonics, moans and cries in prayer. In “Prism of the Heart,” the piano unfolds a storyline in preparation for the lyrical flute. The music is melodic, ponderous, and rich in harmonic exploration; a heartbeat of life is the driving force. The flute cascades over the entire range of the instrument amid probing chordal piano progressions, concluding in a simple g minor cadence.

“Acadian Dreams” by Adrienne Albert evokes red, white, and blue spirit even though Acadians are descendants of French settlers who migrated to Canada. Truly American, the flute pronouncement calls to mind Paul Revere's important cry to the people, with the piano in open harmony as both continue the thematic statement. We visit ragtime, honky-tonk, and are immersed in American melodies, followed by a beautiful reflective ballad with exploration of harmonic centers both new and familiar, motivating the listener to sing along. In the conclusion of “Acadian Dream” we find ourselves in New Orleans, with an infusion of ragtime, jazz and rock and roll.

Flute Suite in D Major by Kevin Walker is a formidable work of five varied movements. In “Prelude,” the piano offers an opening invitation to the flute, which enters with a phrase (reminiscent of the Prokofiev flute sonata) that expands to an interesting melodic line. “Allegro Trill” is an energetic romp, and “Allegro con moto” is a mesh of imaginative ideas, as an energetic opening leads to strains of a familiar, powerfully enhanced spiritual. "Presto Change-o Rondo” is a busy Bach-like invention with intricate piano activity beneath the melodic flute. The work concludes with a brief reprise of the exposition, throwing in every contrapuntal possibility imaginable and driving on to a grand finale.

Special kudos to Jeffrey Hoover for his beautiful painting of a post-Impressionist landscape on the CD cover. See The Triangle, Winter 2016, page 6, for more about Jeffrey's multi-disciplinary work. 

Rebecca Jeffreys is without a doubt a "first call" flutist in any telephone area code.  My collaboration with her on my composition Golden for alto flute and piano was wonderful throughout and has inspired me to write more music for the flute family.  She has a keen imagination for musical possibilities, possessing deep knowledge and experience in both traditional and contemporary performance practices.  One has to admire her exploration and performance experience throughout the entire flute family's instrumentation.  She keeps her word--follows through and stays on schedule--delivering her best.  Engage her and you will be glad you did!

Jeffrey Hoover, composer Director of Integrated Arts, University of Baltimore

"I just drove up to St. Louis and I listened to your CD the whole way! Excellent playing! I love the multiple flute pieces and the Alto playing as well"

" I wanted to tell you again how much I enjoyed the concert.  The music selection was surprising and interesting and I thought worked together really well.  Your playing was amazing.  I am so glad I was there.  Thank you." -Dix

Rebecca Jeffrey's guest conducting of the Merrimack Valley Flute Choir was most inspiring. She stepped into the position when our Director wanted to do more solo playing, and led the group to an extremely successful concert.
Rebecca's leadership style was inspiring. Her conducting was exemplary and was easily followed by novice and expert alike. Rebecca helped lead the group in understanding not only the notes on the page, but how the piece should be played. We learned much about phrasing, listening to others, and dynamics. Her expectations were high and she inspired players to do their best.
We were very lucky to have her as a guest conductor.
Pamela Parkinson  (President of the Merrimack Valley Flute Choir)

Rebecca is a very sensitive and careful conductor.  She gave several people in our group a chance to solo. She shook some of the kinks out of the group with great warmups and by repositioning our players. I found she was also very generous helping individuals. Overall she was very clear and very talented.

Deirdre M. Good Rees

"I attended my first Open Aire Ensemble concert this fall (2013) and was so taken by the whole experience.  The creation of the program and the music selected was superb.  Each piece was unique and reflected many different styles of music as well as each of the musician's amazing talents.  The combined sounds of the piano and the harmonies of the two flutes goes straight to the soul - simply beautiful.  The performance went by far too fast and I am very much looking forward to attending more." 

“Thanks, Rebecca, for your terrific master class yesterday. It gave me personally a lot of confidence and a sense that I'm moving in the 'right' directions with my playing and interpreting music. Plus, I learned a lot just from your comments to all of the other flute players: you certainly honed right in on what were the individual strengths and weaknesses of each and gave concrete, specific ways for all of us to make our various changes: that's the sign of a good master class and a perceptive teacher. Thanks again.”

-Laura

“Rebecca demonstrates a clear understanding of the critical aspects of ensemble playing and communicates those effectively to groups composed of a wide range of abilities.   Her ability to bring musicality to a piece through group instruction in phrasing, dynamics, intonation, timbre, vibrato, and cohesiveness is outstanding.”

                                                                           - Jim

"Rebecca had the ability to make all of the performers feel very confident and each one showed growth and improvement under her tutelage. The entire flute choir was impressed with her instructions and suggestions she shared. She was well spoken, organized in her thoughts and interesting."

-Cheryl (attendee of masterclass)

"As a performer she brings the requisite technical facility to the most challenging material in the flute repertoire.   The most noteworthy feature of her playing though is the expressive, lyrical, clear open sound that characterizes her performances."

-Jim (Member of Woodbridge Flute Choir)

"She is a fine flutist with great intonation, musical phrasing and expression- and a legato to die for.”


 

I really enjoyed your class today and thanks so much for the handouts!
So glad my first solo time is done and I think the best part of the class was playing with the group.
You are a wonderful teacher and have an innate sensibility with everyone's timely needs!

(Ellen participated in my Adult Amateur Masterclass. Brava, Ellen!)

 

 

"Your concert was absolutely wonderful! You, Marje and Molly sounded great, polished, and each personality was expressed through the music in a lovely way."

 

 

"Hannah thoroughly enjoyed the Nashua Community Music School's Flute Camp. I know that she quite enjoyed not just the playing but the information that you passed along to them during your lecture time.  She also found it quite satisfying to play with girls that in her words were "so talented.""

Caroline had a wonderful week with you at flute camp!   Every day she would come home excited about something she learned or an "ah-ha" moment with some term or technique she'd never really quite understood before.  Our family enjoyed the final concert on Friday.  We were so impressed!

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