Alchemy is the second CD released by up-and-coming recorder player, Alicia Crossley. As the title suggests, she seeks she turn “base” early music into something precious, which she does, through her virtuosic playing of both the tenor and bass recorders.
In addition to music from the Baroque period, there are contemporary pieces by Anne Boyd and Toru Takemitsu where Crossley combines with a harpist and guitarist respectively. The Boyd piece is one of ethereal delicacy whereas the Takemitsu is one of expressive contrasts.
A large number of the works on this CD were transcribed for recorder by Crossley herself. As mentioned in the extensive sleeve notes, there are many limitations in transcribing music suitable for the recorder, including the maintenance of appropriate dynamics, dealing with composition highly idiomatic of the original instrument, and the need for extra transpositions. Fortunately, Crossley is able to overcome these difficulties through various playing techniques and a wonderful transcription ability.
The first piece on the disc is JS Bach’s famous Cello Suite No 1 in G BWV 1007 transcribed for bass recorder. It was certainly enlightening to hear it on a wind instrument rather than the rich resonant tones of the cello. For some reason, the recording had noisy breath sounds and keying which I found rather disconcerting and totally detracted from the poetry of this piece, a piece that has been transcribed for many instruments but I feel the bass recorder would not be one of the preferred.
The highlight of the CD is Partita V by lesser-known German composer Johann George Tromlitz (1725-1805) from his collection of Six Partitas for Solo Flute transcribed for tenor recorder.
Two compositions by French composers, Debussy and Faure, also feature on the disc. The sound of the tenor recorder suits Debussy’s dreamy Syrinx very well while Faure’s Sicilienne Op 78 for tenor recorder and harp reflects a pastoral mood.
The last work for tenor recorder and boombox, The Garden of Love by JacobTV , was originally composed for oboe and boombox. It involves narrative (William Blake’s poem of the same name) that inspires the melody and rhythm of the piece, many sounds imitating those of birds flying around a garden. Crossover music at its best!
I would recommend this CD for somebody with an eclectic musical taste looking for variety and something different.
You can also buy the CD on Alicia Crossley’s website.