Looking Back

Looking Back

Flute Music of Joseph Schwantner
Joseph Schwantner
Jennie Oh Brown
Jeffrey Panko
Karin Ursin
Janice MacDonald
Susan Saylor
Catalog Number: 
new classical

Elmhurst, IL

Release Date: 
Sep 25, 2015
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

In the notes to his score to “Looking Back,” composer Joseph Schwantner wrote, “Often when beginning a new project, I start by ‘looking back’ at my earlier music. Revisiting these pieces became a fruitful catalyst for new ideas as I reconsidered the sonic worlds they inhabit.” Although he is best known for his orchestral works (including “Aftertones of Infinity,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979), Schwantner has long shown a special affinity for the flute, writing, “The flute’s virtuosic and expressive possibilities have long captured my imagination providing a potent stimulus for many of my musical ideas.”

On Looking Back, flutist Jennie Brown embraces Schwantner’s progressive and colorful musical language while directly quoting and acknowledging music of his past. The four pieces on this album were written over a span of three decades. “Silver Halo” (2007) was commissioned by Flute Force for their Gala 25th Anniversary Concert. The titular “Looking Back” (2009) was commissioned as a memorial to flutist/teacher Samuel Baron by a consortium of his former students. Throughout, Schwantner’s music is given expressive voice by Brown and the rest of the ensemble who present, in Schwantner’s words, “exciting and compelling performances that display virtuosity marked by deep musical insight and intelligence.”

Known for his dramatic and unique style and as a gifted orchestral colorist, Joseph Schwantner is one of the most prominent American composers today. He received his musical and academic training at the Chicago Conservatory and Northwestern University and has served on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Eastman School of Music, and the Yale School of Music. Schwantner’s compositional career has been marked by many awards, grants, and fellowships, including the Pulitzer Prize and several Grammy nominations.

Jennie Brown is Artistic Director and Flutist with Picosa, a chamber ensemble for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and resident composer. She has recently published articles in the National Flute Association’s Flutist Quarterly and Flute Talk. She teaches at Elmhurst College and directs Credo Flute and the Elmhurst College Summer Music Academy. She has also been on faculty at the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music since 2002. She has performed in Music Festivals at Aspen, the Music Academy of the West, and Norfolk.



"This collection gives us a clear understanding of the breadth of [Schwantner's] writing for flute and of his imaginative use of flute colors, technique and expression. I especially enjoyed the recording of 'Silver Halo,' for flute quartet in which Schwantner displays his true mastery as a composer. Brown plays Schwantner with firm technique and clear soaring sound. She understands the music and plays with conviction and joy!"
Barbara Siesel

"[C]ontemporary pieces ranging from melodic, ethereal to forceful. All interesting!" [FULL ARTICLE]
Laima Harmon

"Brown’s interpretations are vividly detailed, presenting the various nuances of Schwantner’s scores in enthusiastic and vital fashion. ... Schwantner is a master colorist: the abundant variety of timbral combinations and imaginative doublings found in Silver Halo amply attest to this. Brown plays beautifully, and she is abetted by excellent colleagues: Karin Ursin, Janice MacDonald, and Susan Saylor. ... Schwantner and Brown provide us with plenty to consider and savor: Looking Back is a winner of a recording." [FULL ARTICLE]
Christian Carey

Best Classical Recordings of 2015, Honorable Mention [FULL ARTICLE]

"Jennie Oh Brown really understands Schwantner's compositional intent, and her playing reflects the beauty, intensity, rawness, and virtuosity his music requires. She excels in changing characters rapidly, and her beautiful, expressive sound is perfectly suited to Schwantner's emotional, lyrical, and acrobatic music."
Jennifer Slaughter