Music for flute, piano, and the human spirit
Richard Danielpour
Mieczyslaw Weinberg
David Finko
Mimi Stillman
Charles Abramovic
Catalog Number: 
new classical

Philadelphia, PA

Release Date: 
Oct 30, 2015
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

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 recovered here. It is a collection unified by the human struggle for freedom. Stillman, one of the most celebrated and innovative flutists of her generation, has been praised for her dazzling artistry and adventurous programming. A Yamaha Performing Artist and Clinician, she performs internationally as soloist and chamber musician. Abramovic is Professor of Keyboard Studies at Temple University as well as a distinguished collaborative pianist and composer. Stillman and Abramovic, both graduates of the Curtis Institute of Music, enjoy a fruitful duo partnership since 2001.

Dolce Suono Ensemble, founded by Mimi Stillman in 2005, is a winner of the Knight Arts Challenge and was Chamber Music America’s featured “American Ensemble.” The ensemble’s commissioning program has resulted in 42 world premieres in 10 seasons, including the Danielpour and Finko works on this recording. 

Mieczyslaw Weinberg was a Polish Jew who fled the Nazis but whose family was murdered in the Holocaust. An important composer in the Soviet Union, Weinberg formed a close friendship with Dmitri Shostakovich. Both composers were persecuted in the anti-Formalist purge of Stalin in 1948, along with Prokofiev, Khachaturian, and other composers. Five Pieces for Flute and Piano, written in 1947, was all but lost for decades. Stillman and Abramovic gave the United States premiere and subsequent performances.

Stillman commissioned David Finko, a Russian-born Jewish composer, to write his Sonata for Flute and Piano in 2012. She writes of her identification with his story as a Jewish artist of Eastern European background: “I was moved by the searing personal stamp in his music when he reflects on his history of narrowly escaping the Nazis and suffering persecution under the Soviets as an artist and as a Jew.”

Richard Danielpour wrote Remembering Neda: Trio for Flute, Cello, and Piano in 2009, as a reaction to the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom and a commemoration of Neda Agha-Soltan, a young woman who was fatally shot in the Tehran protests that year. Danielpour’s reflection on his Persian-Jewish heritage permeates the work. Remembering Neda was written for Dolce Suono Ensemble’s trio of Stillman, Abramovic, and Yumi Kendall, Assistant Principal Cello of The Philadelphia Orchestra.

This inspiring collection is a testament to the triumph of artistic freedom and the human spirit.


Is it possible for the classical music world to make a coherent statement about the struggle for freedom at a time of increasing anti-Semitism, Islamist terror and the growing strength of tyrannies like Iran? … [T]he release of a new CD titled Freedom from Innova Records gives hope that there is not only a musical response to these challenges that places it on the side of a belief in liberty but offers some dazzling performances of brilliant new as well as newly discovered works. … [F]ascinating explorations of the ability of the musician to portray both suffering and hope … [M]oments of searing beauty that are deeply emotional. … At the center of each composition Stillman’s great technical ability and use of color creates a powerful experience for the listener. The result is an essential disc for any chamber fan or even the casual listener of classical music. … ‘Freedom’ is a powerful statement that at least one corner of the arts community has not lost its conscience. It deserves a larger audience that might otherwise be given to a collection of new chamber music.” [FULL ARTICLE]
Jonathan Tobin

"Mimi Stillman is a world-renowned flutist heralded by The New York Times as 'a consummate and charismatic performer.' Stillman is the founder and artistic director of Dolce Suono Ensemble, a Philadelphia-based chamber group. Also a historian, she brings both interests--history and music--to bear on her latest release, an album called Freedom." [FULL PODCAST]

“This invaluable disk, beautifully played and beautifully recorded, presents three works linked by the fact that their composers, and in some cases their subjects, all suffered exile, imprisonment, or even death on account of political and religious oppression. … Weinberg’s 'Five Pieces,' with their hints of Prokofiev, their echoes of Weinberg’s roots in the Yiddish theater, and their bright, neoclassical tone, are instantly likable. On the strength of this long-awaited and persuasive first recording, they should quickly become a standard in the flute repertoire.”
Steven Stucky, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer

“Her youth notwithstanding, Mimi Stillman has established herself as a top concert flutist in the field. The ease with which Mimi tackles even the most demanding music is simply astounding. … To her CD 'Freedom,' she brings tremendous brilliance, authority, as well as nuance to her playing. Accolades go to her stellar collaborator too: pianist Charles Abramovic, whose partnership with Stillman makes for a hand-in-glove match.”
Shulamit Ran, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer

"Not only do they find just the right rhythmic balance, but even their tones interact in a lovely way, with Stillman's always fresh, tightly focused sound finding a welcome embrace in Abramovic's multi-hued tonality. ... The balance of the program features two new works commissioned by Stillman, who has a remarkable record of bringing new music into the world. David Finko’s post-apocalyptic music is necessarily dark, lower in energy than other music of his that I have heard, but strikingly original, with an expressionistic power delivered in a stealthy way." [FULL ARTICLE]
Peter Burwasser

"Gravitas for flute. Enterprising flutist Mimi Stillman and master pianist Charles Abramovic have just issued a disc titled Freedom on the Innova label that's likely to expand the flute repertoire with works that defy the stereotypical emotional limitations of wind instruments. In his 2012 Sonata for Flute and Piano written for this duo, David Finko produced one of his most inward-looking pieces. Mieczyslaw Weinberg's Debussy-inspired Five Pieces for Flute and Piano was all but lost until Stillman rediscovered it. But the prize of the album is the exotic melancholy and rage of Richard Danielpour's Remembering Neda, also featuring cellist Yumi Kendall."
David Patrick Stearns

"[Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s Five Pieces for Flute and Piano is] a beautiful set of five character pieces, both serious and lively -- a great addition to the flute repertoire! ...  Throughout the album Stillman’s playing is well thought out--each note has a reason, and her playing reflects her deep feelings about each of the works and the experiences they reflect--all supported by her beautiful tone, technique, pitch and intonation and put to work to support the music. Charles Abramovic’s beautiful, thoughtful, and intense playing is perfectly matched to Stillman's, and they are an extraordinary team. ... [A] beautiful, important album." [FULL ARTICLE]
Barbara Siesel