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Album Review

The Flutist Quarterly, NFA magazine, summer issue 2023

Marie Sønderskov: Requiem for a Dying Species © 2022 This recording of four pieces composed and performed by Nordic flutist and composer Marie Sønderskov, Requiem for a Dying Species, is a must listen. A collection of musical stories about four threatened species, each is unique and vividly interesting. Sønderskov uses a range of flutes—wooden, c-flute, alto, and bass—on this good quality recording, which allows for the nuances of the musical effects and different flutes to come forward. Common to her compositions and true throughout this collection, one can hear different folk music influences and soundscapes created from fluent extended techniques. The soundscapes are evocative and beckoning, bringing the featured species forward in a larger-than-life effect and transporting the listener to the animal’s domain. The first piece, “Spix’s Macaw,” is performed on a wooden flute. One can hear a native Brazilian influence, and the musical effects throughout sometimes create solace, and at other times suggest the playful swooping and fluttering of the bird in the rainforest. There is a section where the bird’s movements sound more constrained, desperate, trying in earnest for freer movement. It ends with the memory of the earlier feel and theme. Moving from Brazil to Africa, “White Rhino,” performed on the C-flute, has influences of African drums, singing, and the bounce and sway of dancing. The listener is transported into the rhino’s space and swept into moving along with the stomping and deep grunting of the great creature. The piece eventually moves to a less vibrant, darker, reflective section and then closes with the earlier memory and impression of the rhino who is now moving into the distance. “Vaquita Porpoise,” on the alto flute, rides along with the porpoise in a flowing and playful series of underwater antics in the Gulf of Mexico. It has an undulating feel of freedom of movement mixed in with the porpoise occasionally crying out mournfully. “Koala” moves to the Australian bush. Performed on the bass flute, somehow Sønderskov manages to create a pronounced didgeridoo effect. It’s extraordinary. The alternating sounds of a koala’s vocalizing and grunting are oddly charming, reminding us that this unique voice lives alongside the human voicing through a didgeridoo. –BJ Nicoletti

The Flute View Cover November 2022
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