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Victor Carr Jr.

"Alexandra Hawley and Jeffrey McFadden offer a wonderfully eclectic program for flute and guitar. If you haven't heard this combination of instruments before, on the evidence presented here you'll very likely agree that it's a most musically rewarding pairing. The flute's smooth timbre ideally complements the guitar's non-legato and softly percussive tone quality--aspects put to good use in Robert Beaser's Mountain Songs, where McFadden's rustic, folksy picking and strumming is tempered by Hawley's serenely floating melodies. Joan Tower's quasi-impressionistic Snow Dreams initially conjures up idyllic, pastoral images before the composer's spiky harmonic style slightly sharpens the music's edges. Likewise, Lowell Liebermann's Sonata for Flute opens with a blissfully ruminative Nocturne, an atmosphere that dissipates immediately with the start of the nervously dancing Allegro finale.

Based on Mexican folk tunes, Terry Riley's Cantos Desiertos features delightfully stirring dances rendered with the aid of percussion. Finally, Peter Schickele's Windows offers a neo-Renaissance Pavane and a songful Cantilena before charging into an all-out strum-fest for the closing Refrain. Hawley and McFadden play beautifully, sounding convincingly at home in all of the varying styles and modes presented by this unusual mix of composers. Naxos' engineering gives listeners a realistic sense of the recording venue. This is one of those discs you just put in your player and totally enjoy. 10/10"

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