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Arts Desk

Freedom: A Musical Testament

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Freedom, by flutist Mimi Stillman and pianist Charles Abramovic, brings together two works commissioned by their Philadelphia-based Dolce Suono Ensemble, and one long-lost work recently discovered.

How does music—without words—respond to political and social turmoil? WRTI’s Susan Lewis considers FREEDOM, a recording featuring flute, piano, and cello. Created independently, each of three works speaks in its own way to artistic freedom and the human spirit.

Radio Script: 

Music: Remembering Neda, by Richard Danielpour

Susan Lewis:  In 2009,  Mimi Stillman commissioned a work from composer Richard Danielpour.  Reflecting on his Persian Jewish roots, Danielpour was also then moved to respond to the death of a young woman shot during protests that summer in Iran. Remembering Neda is for flute, piano and cello.

Mimi Stillman: The movements follow a narrative trajectory: lamentation—desecration—benediction.

SL: Several years later, Stillman commissioned David Finko, a Russian naval engineer turned composer who emigrated to the U.S. in 1979. His sonata for flute and piano imagines a city after a nuclear attack, with the flute representing the sole survivor.

MUSIC: Sonata for Flute and Piano, by David Finko 

SL: Performed with these two works is Mieczyslaw Weinburg’s 1947 Five pieces for Flute and Piano, a suite that was only recently discovered  in an archive in St. Petersburg.

MUSIC: Five Pieces for Flute and Piano, by Mieczyslaw Weinberg

MS: The years in which he wrote it… these are years in which Weinberg faced persecution, censorship from Stalin’s government in the formalist purge, and a lot of fear of death.

SL: Yet the work is alternately spirited, moving and and resilient, much like the quest for freedom itself. Mimi Stillman, Charles Abramovic, and Yumi Kendall perform on Freedom, now available on the Innova label of the American Composers Forum.

StillmanFreedomCD011116SLLF.mp3
Flutist Mimi Stillman, talks with WRTI's Susan Lewis about the stories behind her new recording Freedom, which features music by Danielpour, Weinberg, and Finko. Also performing on the CD are pianist Charles Abramovic and cellist Yumi Kendall.