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Wincenc’s trills are a real thrill

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CAROL WINCENC, Madsen Recital Hall, Brigham Young University, Saturday.

PROVO — Among today's flutists, few have concentrated on presenting new repertoire as much as Carol Wincenc.

Jean-Pierre Rampal has always espoused the standard works for the instrument. James Galway, while having performed his share of classical works, has gravitated to crossover music. Only Wincenc has been keenly focused on the music of today.

Even so, she certainly hasn't neglected the works of the past — they have an integral place on her concerts. But she has done more than any other flutist to promote contemporary music and, consequently, increase the repertoire.

Wincenc brought that extensive repertoire with her to Utah Saturday evening when she performed in recital with Salt Lake pianist Jed Moss, in the Madsen Recital Hall on the BYU campus.

Wincenc is an impressive artist. In her playing, technique and musicality are in perfect balance, and the result is sheer poetry. Whether playing something from the 18th century or a piece written expressly for her, she expresses herself with her imposing talent, as well as with her remarkable stage presence. She is quite simply one of the great virtuosos of our time.

Moss accompanied Wincenc with an equal dose of virtuosity and musicality.

He was careful never to overpower her playing, yet offered a solid performance that equaled hers in expression. Wincenc and Moss had only a short time together before Saturday's concert to prepare and rehearse, yet their ensemble playing was focused and even intuitive. There was a naturalness to their collaboration that normally comes only after years of performing together.

After opening the concert with the charming and lyrical Sonata in G minor, BWV 1020 — a work that has always been ascribed to J.S. Bach but is now attributed to his son Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach — Wincenc delved into darker musical territory with stunning interpretations of Debussy's "Syrinx" and Varese's "Density 21.5," both milestones in 20th century solo flute music.

Wincenc decided to play "Syrinx" on a dark stage to increase the auditory effect of this hauntingly sensuous piece. It created an effectively moody atmosphere for the piece to unfold its seductive melodies.

"Density 21.5" followed "Syrinx," this time on a lighted stage. The antithesis of the Debussy, "Density 21.5" explores the instrument's sonic possibilities in an intense, almost aggressive, manner. Wincenc captured the work's character with her electrifyingly vivid performance.

Several composers have written works for Wincenc. A few years ago she had 10 of them write short pieces that she collected in a set called "Book of Valentines." Saturday, she played five of them, by Roberto Sierra, Lukas Foss, Joan Tower and two by Paul Schoenfield. These brief vignettes are intended as Valentine's Day greetings to Wincenc. They also serve to show the rich variety of music by some of today's most prominent composers, from the romanticism of Foss' "Valentine," to Tower's fabulously demanding "Valentine Trills."

Rounding out the program was Enescu's wonderfully lyrical "Cantabile et Presto" and Poulenc's captivating Sonata for Flute and Piano, one of the composer's most scintillating works. There were also two encores, one of which was Faur's early but delightful "Morceau des concours."

E-MAIL: ereichel@desnews.com