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Sequenza21
Jay Batzner

Alexa Still
Carl Vine: Sonata for Flute
Koch International

June 18th, 2008

The combination of Alexa Still on flute and Stephen Gosling on piano creates a veritable “Brangelina” of musical technique. Both performers are constantly praised for their technical prowess and amazing ability to make the most challenging works sound effortless and easy. Reviewers far and wide agree that Alexa Still doesn’t make anything sound tough. She gracefully sprints and hurdles through menacing challenges without seeming to break a sweat. On a similar note, I once heard Stephen Gosling begin a sentence with “When I played Eonta…” and I just kind of blanked out after that. It just wasn’t something I’d ever heard a pianist say before. Added to this technical superiority comes an equally superior sensitive musical side. This disc isn’t just flautistic fireworks.

There is a perception that flute music is light and twee stuff. Yes, there are plenty of twee flute works out there, recorded ad nauseam. My better 15/16ths plays flute and I have several of “those” recordings. This disc is a delicious collection of works that are less known but still connected in spirit to those countless Parisian salon discs that include yet one more recording of Poulenc’s sonata. The title work for the disc, Carl Vine’s Sonata for flute and piano, is a delightful and serious work that I want to hear more often. Luckily, I get to keep this disc.

The two selections by Gubaidulina are more conservative earlier pieces that show the underpinnings of her colorful and crafty later works. Of Schwantner’s two pieces, Black Anemones sounds more restrained than his better-known large ensemble works. Soaring is a treacherous journey despite its rather mellow title. To my ears, it sounds like a beginning and doesn’t really sound complete after its brief 1:35 runtime. Paul Schoenfield is the third composer with two works on the disc and it feels good to hear something other than his ubiquitous (yet enjoyable) Café Music. Achat Sha’alti and Ufaratsta show two sides of his Jewish music inspirations. Achat Sha’alti is beautiful, sometimes mournful, and rich while Ufaratsta bubbles along with joyous energy. Dan Welcher’s extended quote of “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” in All the Words to All the Songs seems downright cheeseballish but it is instead intended as a elegy for an old friend.

There really isn’t anything, composition-wise or performance-wise, on this disc that I didn’t enjoy. The opening track of Orange Dawn by Ian Clarke sucked me in right away and I’ve been spinning the disc a lot ever since. Paul Ben-Haim’s Three Songs Without Words are wonderfully lyrical. I Dream’d in a Dream by Glen B. Cortese balances the dark and dramatic side with the hopeful in an effectively fluid form. The closing track, Anne Boyd’s Goldfish Through a Summer Rain is a picturesque closer played with much sensitivity. Good stuff abounds on this disc. If you like flute music or hate it, I’m betting that you will enjoy this CD.


Democrat & Cronicle
Rochester, NY, USA
May 2, 2008

ALEXIS STILL: CARL VINE'S SONATA FOR FLUTE. This Australian-based flutist steps right out on the ledge with this recording of all contemporary music. Vine's sonata, which stands as the CD's centerpiece only in title, is a real find. The flute is given daring maneuvers in two movements of "Fast" and "Very Fast," yet has breezy melodic material and memorable motifs, though unconventional. Recognizable composers are Paul Schoenfield and former Eastman faculty member Joseph Schwantner. Schoenfield's pieces were arranged for virtuoso flutist Carol Wincenc from piano pieces, but Still's expressive playing lives up. Listeners will even get a kick out of a piece by Rochester-born composer Dan Welcher, who weaves in verses of Elvis into contemporary composition, changing keys halfway through phrases and other such fun techniques. Still, a native of New Zealand who teaches at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and has studied and performed throughout the United States, has a bright, energized and assured voice on the flute. Pianist Stephen Gosling, who is her accompanist, is a recognizable name in new music who gives unfamiliar music a lot of character.

—Anna Reguero


From the Juilliard Journal: vol. XX, No. 5, Feb 2005 ("discoveries"):
Flute Fireworks

John Corigliano: Pied Piper Fantasy; Katherine Hoover: Medieval Suite; Chen Yi: Golden Flute. Alexa Still, flute; New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, James Sedares, conductor. (Koch International Classics 7566)

Like the guitar, the solo flute is an underdog in orchestral settings, lacking the major concerto repertoire enjoyed by its bigger orchestral cousins. Nevertheless, living composers such as John Corigliano have written highly idiomatic display pieces for the instrument, as this recording demonstrates.

Corigliano's Pied Piper Fantasy is a 38-minute, seven-movement tour de force for flute and orchestra. Commissioned by James Galway in 1981a full decade before Corigliano joined the composition faculty at Juilliard, where he still teaches. It remains one of his most enduring works and shows him emerging as a master orchestrator. The piece also includes a theatrical component, requiring the soloist to don a Pied Piper costume and having the children in the audience leave their seats and join the piper as he leads them out of Hamelin. Indeed, a year ago this month, youngsters from Juilliard's Music Advancement Program (MAP) took on that role with Galway at a series of New York Philharmonic concerts. While lacking that visual touch, this recording, with the accomplished New Zealand flutist Alexa Still, happily captures the assorted gnawing and scurrying sounds, illustrated in sliding thirds, jittery repeated notes, and some high-pitched squeals of strings and woodwinds.

The other selections on this CD have their individual charms. Chen Yi's The Golden Flute is a colorful evocation of the Chinese bamboo flute, while Katherine Hoover's Medieval Suite takes its inspiration from the music of 14th-century France.

Brian Wise is a producer at WNYC radio and writes about music for The New York Times, Time Out New York, Opera News, and other publications.


Fanfare Magazine Jan/Feb 2005
CORIGLIANO Pied Piper Fantasy. HOOVER Medieval Suite. CHEN YI The Golden Flute.
Alexa Still (fl); James Sedares cond; New Zealand SO. Koch KIC-CD-7566 (73:07)
BY PAUL INGRAM

The main work is a cross between a vivid, almost Strausian tone poem and a huge flute concerto, written by Corigliano for a James Galway commission in 1981. It tells the familiar Pied Piper story in seven sections, but with an added dramatic twist, live: the flutist is in costume and does a certain amount of acting before making a slow moving retreat at the end, as the children are led away. Corigliano's expert scoring, with its teeming instrumental detail (beautifully projected here by Sedares and the soloist's old orchestra), supports a memorable melodic "hook" in the Pipers' song, which recurs and develops in the orchestra fabric. Attractive, indelible stuff, and a real discovery: the Galway recording is long-gone. It is an impressive and coherent piece of imaginative writing, enjoyable straight off, but with a logical sweep, right from the Sunrise opening to the final, insidious melody of the Children's March, for which Alexa Still lays down her flute in favor of the tin whistle. She certainly has her flute in hand for the central, solo War Cadenza, though. Anyone who doubts Still's dumbfounding technical ability or complete tonal control should hear these six minutes of staggering, unaccompanied story telling, or indeed, any part of Chen Yi's Golden Flute of 1997. Still creates a rainbow of colors within the range we might call "beautiful". You just won't hear better-sustained flute playing, on disc than this, or more subtle, characterful phrasing: real, warm, communicative musicality. Chen Yi's quarter-hour concerto is another Galway commission, and this is its first recording: confident orchestration, shimmering tonalities, and a beguiling palette of emotional and expressive gestures for the flutist, some derived from Chinese melody, or an evocation of the traditional instrument, the xun.

Katherine Hoover's Medieval Suite from 1983 stands apart from its lush companions. The composer is a flutist as well as composer/conductor. Her writing is obviously inside the instrument, but the music itself and orchestration engage closely with the 20th-centiry European mainstream, while evoking 14th-century France. Each movement establishes its own character, is sharply memorable, and stands up to repetition. Hear "The Drunken Friar, " complete with Sumer Is Icomen In (shades of Korngold's Robin Hood) for another fine instance of Still's ability to tell a story through tonal variety, and to convey a touching sense of her own humanity, especially in the succeeding piece, about a six-year-old bride-to-be. The economy of Hoover's writing is as admirable as her melodic aptitude. This is a modest work, but there is real talent, and unpretentious charm in these five sketches, none of them a second too long. Recorded sound, a couple of very minor level drops apart, is really fine with warmth, dynamics, and clarity in the orchestra, and no nasty noises from the flute's workings. The Corigliano cadenza in particular is an excellent specimen of solo flute recording. Many flute discs can be recommended, politely, to fellow flutists. Thanks to the quality of the music here, and the amazing musicianship of Alexa Still, this Koch CD can be recommended to lovers of easily approachable contemporary music too. It's heart warming stuff: undemanding, but expert. Still's memorable Pied Piper, with its theme-tune hooks and invigorating dances, should be seducing commercial radio executives across the land and potential purchasers in droves.



Corigliano American Record Guide review
Corigliano: Pied Piper Fantasy; Hoover Medieval Suite; Yi: The Golden Flute
Alexa Still, fl; New Zealand Symphony/ James Sedares- Koch 7566- 73 minutes

This is a superb recording. Still plays with flawless technique. In three demanding works, she never loses the clarity and beauty of her tone. She maintains astonishing control, from moments of screaming brilliance to compelling pianissimos. The first of the three, Katherine Hoover's Medieval Suite, is the premiere recording of the flute-and-orchestra version of a work originally scored for flute and piano. It was already a fabulous piece, and the new version is a fabulous update. The effect of each movement is further heightened by clever orchestration. The New Zealand Symphony does a brilliant job with this. Hoover enjoys a reputation for great flute writing, and I think she deserves credit for more.

The title piece, John Corigliano's Pied Piper Fantasy is best in a concert performance. Originally recorded by James Galway, David Effron, and the Eastman Philharmonia, this pieces is now one of the standard tests for true flute virtuosity. Still not only passes the exam, she puts her own unique stamp on this challenging work. Listeners not well acquainted with Corigliano should also check out his symphonies. The final piece on this recording was also written for Galway, and I am puzzled why he premiered but apparently did not record it. Chen Yi is a Chinese composer with experience in both Chinese traditional music and European Art Music. She smashes the two worlds together in a way that reveals deep knowledge of both- an unusual skill in a day and age that celebrates musical and so-called cross cultural efforts of questionable merit. While others are dilettantes at best, Chen Yi shows that she knows both worlds from years of study and careful listening. Still's rendering of this pieces should convince even the most skeptical that musical syncretism is actually a good idea.

CHAFFE


Archive review

A pair of gold-medal winners here, featuring three American composers born respectively in 1937 (Glass), Corigliano Jr. (1938) and Ms. Hoover (1939), and a Chinese-American fourth (Ms. Chen) born in 1953, two years before her countryman Bright Sheng. The music of both ladies is new to me, but they are composers of individuality and great resource once their respective works have begun with metal percussion softly tintinnabulating. Of the two, Ms. Chen is the more dramatic and “modern” personality, although nothing in The Golden Flute of 1997 is arcane or off-putting, designed to evoke two Chinese flutes, one bamboo, the other clay. The first of three movements have no descriptive signature beyond “I” and “II,” but “III” is marked Allegro and builds to a whirligig climax. The writing for flute is (how to say?) idiomatic and virtuosic in the same frame, and Alexa Still is a plainly superb soloist, not only in The Golden Flute but in Ms. Hoover’s five-movement Medieval Suite from 1983. This is unexpectedly gentler music, inspired by Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror” about violent 14th-century France. It opens with borrowed music from Guillaume de Machaut, and later on from Gregorian Chant, but the voice is Katherine Hoover’s, ever charming, ingenious, and a showcase for the protean talents of Alexa Still, who runs Emanuel Pahud a neck-and-neck race in the new century’s flute sweepstakes.

Corigliano’s first-featured Pied Piper Fantasy is the longest work at 37-1/2 minutes, which James Galway commissioned in 1981 and premiered a year later. Its seven movements, the most kaleidoscopic music on this disc, follow the tale of Hamelin’s rats, the Piper’s riddance of them, and his revenge on the ungrateful townsfolk by piping their children into legend. There is a wild “War Cadenza” for the soloist in his battle with the rats until he realizes they are hypnotized by his simple song heard at the start (and at the close). The Pied Piper is an audience-participation piece, semi-theatrical in structure, with the children in the audience leaving their seats and joining the piper as he leads them out of Hamelin. Their drums and flutes echo his as the sound fades, leaving the stage in darkness as it was when the piece began. With all respect to Galway and our appreciation for his commission, Ms. Still out-flutes him in this stupendously engineered performance, conducted with the mastery one has come to expect and treasure from James Sedares, and played to a fare-the-well by the New Zealand SO with which he’s made so many outstanding discs. I’ve played this one several times and its charm grows rather than palls, which so much 20th-century music tends to do after the first flush of surprise and sometimes pleasure.

R.D. (November 2004)



From Newmusicbox.com



Music for Flute and Orchestra

There's a lot of talk during this political cycle about how America is outsourcing jobs ultimately at its economic peril, but as far as I've heard, no one on the campaign trail has mentioned the exile of American orchestral repertoire to foreign ensembles, which is now taken for granted by most people in the music community.

In what has to be one of the more bizarre statistics I've dreamed up recently, I wager I can prove that over the past decade, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has recorded more American music than the Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra combined. I know it's not because the so-called big five American orchestras are busy recording tons of great music from New Zealand, so what is the cause of this unusual (one way) cultural exchange?

Well, part of it is the probing mind of American born conductor James Sedares, formerly music director of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, who has now recorded over 30 discs with the NZSO including complete symphonic cycles of Virgil Thomson and Randall Thomson, the first-ever recordings of many of Miklós Rózsa's concertos, and discs devoted to living composers ranging from Donald Erb to Daniel Asia and Ian Krouse. The other is the ever-resourceful Koch International Classics, who have been strong advocates for contemporary American orchestral music, but who, like everyone else including the so-called major record labels (remember them?), can't afford to record American orchestras. But luckily, we the listeners, are hardly losers in this.

The latest in their series is a disc devoted to flute concertos by three very different living composers: John Corigliano, Chen Yi, and Katherine Hoover which should forever dispel the myth that flute concertos are light fare. Chen Yi's The Golden Flute, like the majority of her work, explores the aesthetic meeting point between Chinese traditional music and extended instrumental techniques in contemporary Western avant-garde music. Here, the flute is made to sound like two ancient instruments, the bamboo dizi and clay xun. Very old music also serves as the inspiration for the concerto by Katherine Hoover, albeit music from a different geographical region, Mediaeval Europe. Inspired by characters in Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, a lucid history of 14th century France, the five movements of Hoover's Medieval Suite attempt to connect this turbulent period in history with today. Hoover weaves together source melodies from Gregorian chant to dances by the great Guillaume de Machaut to create extremely vivid sonic portraits of people of the time. My particular favorite is "The Drunken Friar" which probably speaks for itself.

The biggest work on the disc is John Corigliano's Pied Piper Fantasy which from its title, the requirement for the soloist to appear in a Pied Piper costume and prance around the stage, plus the fact that it had been previously recorded by Sir James Galway, might lead you to believe that this is pops concert material, but it's an assumption quickly dispelled by the clusters of quartertones that open the work. A wild postmodernist panorama that changes stylistic orientation as frequently as Imelda Marcos used to change her shoes, the Pied Piper Fantasy is crammed full of sonic surprises. And, with its seven movements clocking in at almost 38 minutes, it is a real marathon for its soloist in purely musical terms. Alexa Still, also a New Zealander, gives Galway a real run for his money on this concerto he commissioned as well as the other works on this disc (Chen Yi's Golden Flute was also his commission). But what to make of the rats crawling all over the cover of the CD, they initially made me want to run away. Apparently they have something to do with the Pied Piper theatrics which for this rat-o-phobic listener, are thankfully absent from this audio-only recording. - FJO



Hawke's Bay Today (New Zealand), Music Notes Column, Dec 15, 2004

CD Koch International Classics 3-7566-2 featuring flautist Alexa Still with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra directed by James Sedares, recorded in the Wellington Town Hall. Music by Katherine Hoover, John Coriglian and Chen Yi. Reviewed by Peter Williams

Former principal Flautist with the NZSO, Alexa Still has been living for the last six years in the USA where she is Associate Professor of Flute and from where she has continued a very successful international career. The youngest appointee to the principal's chair, she was very highly regarded and much admired as a flautist and an outstanding soloist in many NZSO performances. This same standard of performance is very much in evidence on this CD where extraordinary vitality, purity of tone, elegant phrasing and a sure sense of style, which were always hallmarks of her playing, are paramount features of the solo part. The three composers represented are all American citizens and together their compositions make a fascinating kaleidoscope of contemporary American music in a variety of styles.

The six movements of Katherine Hoover's Medieval Suite, originally scored for just flute and piano, are based on events in 14th century France as related in Barbara Tuchman's historical novel A Distant Mirror. Alexa Still brilliantly captures the character of each event in playing of exceptional expressiveness and clarity.

The major work on the disc is John Corigliano's The Pied Piper Fantasy, beginning with the evocative Sunrise and The Piper's Song and ending with The Children's March which vividly portrays the unhappy ending to the story. In between the scenes such as Battle with the Rats and The Burghers Chorale show Alex Still in full command and complete mastery of all the expressive and technical possibilities of her instrument.

The Golden Flute by Chen Yi successfully highlights the sound of traditional Chinese wind instruments, and that country's traditional music in combination with the sophisticated modern instrument, in a three movement concerto. Highlights here are the variations in the first movements and the expansive solo cadenza in the Finale.

Under James Sedares' direction the NZSO gives fine support to the soloist in quality playing that projects the style of each composition and its unique instrumental character, with stunning effect.

Alexa Still has recently been back in NZ and will return again in 2005 to play as soloist in concerts with the Wellington Sinfonia in Wellington and other North Island Centers.



Classical CD Review

A pair of gold-medal winners here, featuring three American composers born respectively in 1937 (Glass), Corigliano Jr. (1938) and Ms. Hoover (1939), and a Chinese-American fourth (Ms. Chen) born in 1953, two years before her countryman Bright Sheng. The music of both ladies is new to me, but they are composers of individuality and great resource once their respective works have begun with metal percussion softly tintinnabulating. Of the two, Ms. Chen is the more dramatic and modern personality, although nothing in The Golden Flute of 1997 is arcane or off-putting, designed to evoke two Chinese flutes, one bamboo, the other clay. The first of three movements have no descriptive signature beyond I and II, but III is marked Allegro and builds to a whirligig climax. The writing for flute is (how to say?) idiomatic and virtuosic in the same frame, and Alexa Still is a plainly superb soloist, not only in The Golden Flute but in Ms. Hoover s five-movement Medieval Suite from 1983. This is unexpectedly gentler music, inspired by Barbara Tuchman s A Distant Mirror about violent 14th-century France. It opens with borrowed music from Guillaume de Machaut, and later on from Gregorian Chant, but the voice is Katherine Hoover s, ever charming, ingenious, and a showcase for the protean talents of Alexa Still, who runs Emanuel Pahud a neck-and-neck race in the new century s flute sweepstakes.

Corigliano s first-featured Pied Piper Fantasy is the longest work at 37-1/2 minutes, which James Galway commissioned in 1981 and premiered a year later. Its seven movements, the most kaleidoscopic music on this disc, follow the tale of Hamelin s rats, the Piper s riddance of them, and his revenge on the ungrateful townsfolk by piping their children into legend. There is a wild War Cadenza for the soloist in his battle with the rats until he realizes they are hypnotized by his simple song heard at the start (and at the close). The Pied Piper is an audience-participation piece, semi-theatrical in structure, with the children in the audience leaving their seats and joining the piper as he leads them out of Hamelin. Their drums and flutes echo his as the sound fades, leaving the stage in darkness as it was when the piece began. With all respect to Galway and our appreciation for his commission, Ms. Still out-flutes him in this stupendously engineered performance, conducted with the mastery one has come to expect and treasure from James Sedares, and played to a fare-the-well by the New Zealand SO with which he s made so many outstanding discs. I ve played this one several times and its charm grows rather than palls, which so much 20th-century music tends to do after the first flush of surprise and sometimes pleasure.

R.D. (November 2004)


Music for Flute and Orchestra
From Newmusicbox.com

There's a lot of talk during this political cycle about how America is outsourcing jobs ultimately at its economic peril, but as far as I've heard, no one on the campaign trail has mentioned the exile of American orchestral repertoire to foreign ensembles, which is now taken for granted by most people in the music community.

In what has to be one of the more bizarre statistics I've dreamed up recently, I wager I can prove that over the past decade, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has recorded more American music than the Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, and the Philadelphia Orchestra combined. I know it's not because the so-called big five American orchestras are busy recording tons of great music from New Zealand, so what is the cause of this unusual (one way) cultural exchange?

Well, part of it is the probing mind of American born conductor James Sedares, formerly music director of the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, who has now recorded over 30 discs with the NZSO including complete symphonic cycles of Virgil Thomson and Randall Thomson, the first-ever recordings of many of Miklós Rózsa's concertos, and discs devoted to living composers ranging from Donald Erb to Daniel Asia and Ian Krouse. The other is the ever-resourceful Koch International Classics, who have been strong advocates for contemporary American orchestral music, but who, like everyone else including the so-called major record labels (remember them?), can't afford to record American orchestras. But luckily, we the listeners, are hardly losers in this.

The latest in their series is a disc devoted to flute concertos by three very different living composers: John Corigliano, Chen Yi, and Katherine Hoover which should forever dispel the myth that flute concertos are light fare. Chen Yi's The Golden Flute, like the majority of her work, explores the aesthetic meeting point between Chinese traditional music and extended instrumental techniques in contemporary Western avant-garde music. Here, the flute is made to sound like two ancient instruments, the bamboo dizi and clay xun. Very old music also serves as the inspiration for the concerto by Katherine Hoover, albeit music from a different geographical region, Mediaeval Europe. Inspired by characters in Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, a lucid history of 14th century France, the five movements of Hoover's Medieval Suite attempt to connect this turbulent period in history with today. Hoover weaves together source melodies from Gregorian chant to dances by the great Guillaume de Machaut to create extremely vivid sonic portraits of people of the time. My particular favorite is "The Drunken Friar" which probably speaks for itself.

The biggest work on the disc is John Corigliano's Pied Piper Fantasy which from its title, the requirement for the soloist to appear in a Pied Piper costume and prance around the stage, plus the fact that it had been previously recorded by Sir James Galway, might lead you to believe that this is pops concert material, but it's an assumption quickly dispelled by the clusters of quartertones that open the work. A wild postmodernist panorama that changes stylistic orientation as frequently as Imelda Marcos used to change her shoes, the Pied Piper Fantasy is crammed full of sonic surprises. And, with its seven movements clocking in at almost 38 minutes, it is a real marathon for its soloist in purely musical terms. Alexa Still, also a New Zealander, gives Galway a real run for his money on this concerto he commissioned as well as the other works on this disc (Chen Yi's Golden Flute was also his commission). But what to make of the rats crawling all over the cover of the CD, they initially made me want to run away. Apparently they have something to do with the Pied Piper theatrics which for this rat-o-phobic listener, are thankfully absent from this audio-only recording.

—FJO


By ROBERT BAXTER
Courier-Post Staff
October 17, 2004

Alexa Still surveys three cutting-edge scores for the flute in her latest Koch release (KIC 7566 ). Katherine Hoover’s Medieval Suite, John Corigliano’s The Pied Piper Fantasy and Chen Yi’s The Golden Flute for Flute and Orchestra comprise the challenging program undertaken by the New Zealand flutist.

Hoover’s suite, inspired by Barbara Tuchman’s history of 14th-century France, features five contrasting portraits that give a flutist the chance to display her artistry. Still finds an expressive range of color in her performance with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, led by James Sedares.

Corigliano wrote his fantasy for John Galway. Against a powerfully varied orchestral accompaniment, the flute soars and shimmers. Still savors the technical challenges in this testing score. She also excels in the lyricism and virtuosity of Yi’s concerto, another work inspired by Galway.


Flutist showcases contemporary composers
Kenneth LaFave
The Arizona Republic
November 7, 2004

It's rare that one living composer lauds another unequivocally. More frequently, we get Igor Stravinsky dissing Richard Strauss, or Aaron Copland saying of Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 5, "It's like staring at a cow for 45 minutes."

So it is with pleasure we report the following comments about American composer Katherine Hoover from one of her fellows:

"Her music is fresh and individual. . . . I do not know why her works are not yet being played by the major institutions of this country, but I am sure that she will attain the status she deserves in time."

The writer is John Corigliano, Oscar-winning composer of music for films The Red Violin and Altered States, two symphonies, a bunch of concertos and the megaopera The Ghosts of Versailles.

Corigliano, Hoover and Chen-Yi - living composers all - are featured in a new disc from flutist Alexa Still, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and conductor James Sedares. The Kiwi-born Still plays with incision yet without edge. Sedares, former music director of the Phoenix Symphony, conducts with aplomb.

Pied Piper Fantasy, the title of Corigliano's 1981 flute concerto and the eponymous name of Still's disc, is a vivid blend of effects and tunes. Chen-Yi's work, The Golden Flute, is a sturdy composition with moments of intense color.

But Hoover's Medieval Suite is the real revelation here. There are two ways a contemporary composer can deal with the Middle Ages in today's terms: by evoking its strangeness, its antiquated Orientalisms, or by painting cinematic pictures of a fairy-tale Medieval, full of castles and monks. Somehow, Hoover has it both ways. Her music has a distinctive voice that sings at every turn of some deep, closely held vision. She makes us want to share in it.


San Francisco Chronicle CD Review
November 7, 2004
CORIGLIANO

John Corigliano is a marquee name, and so his "Pied Piper Fantasy" gets the headline spot on this attractive triptych of recent works for flute and orchestra, rendered with dash and vibrancy by flutist Alexa Still and the New Zealand Symphony under conductor James Sedares. But it's not clear that Corigliano's theatrical bonbon, a concert entertainment written for James Galway and based on Browning's poem, is the most interesting music on offer here. Sure, his writing is full of illustrative goodies -- you can hear the rats march in and out, hear the townsfolk react and even hear the children being spirited away by the piper's golden tones. But there is more musical substance in Chen Yi's "Golden Flute" -- a richly colored evocation of the Chinese bamboo flute -- and even Katherine Hoover's "Medieval Suite," for all its dramatic timidity, stays longer in the listener's memory. -- Joshua Kosman.

CORIGLIANO
PIED PIPER FANTASY
ALEXA STILL, FLUTE;
NEW ZEALAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
KOCH INTERNATIONAL


Concerto recordings offer variation in styles and intensity
By Edward Reichel
Deseret Morning News
November 21, 2004

ALEXA STILL, FLUTE, JAMES SEDARES AND THE NEW ZEALAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA; Kathleen Hoover, "Medieval Suite"; John Corigliano, "The Pied Piper Fantasy"; Chen Yi, "The Golden Flute" (Koch International Classics) *** The three flute concertos on Koch's CD by Alexa Still, James Sedares and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra offers listeners three quite different musical styles, ranging from Kathleen Hoover's mellifluous "Medieval Suite" to John Corigliano's dramatic "The Pied Piper Fantasy" to Chen Yi's intense "The Golden Flute."

Each work is played with a self-assuredness by flutist Still, who shows remarkable artistry both in technique and in expression. She is accompanied by conductor James Sedares and the New Zealand Symphony, and the collaboration between soloist and orchestra is notable for its fine balance and articulate interaction.

Of the three works, Chen's is by far the most original. There is a subtle co-mingling between Eastern and Western idioms in "The Golden Flute," which gives the three-movement work its unique flavor.

"The Pied Piper Fantasy" shows Corigliano at his most colorful and descriptive in terms of orchestration and melodic inventiveness. Originally written for James Galway, the flute part is especially intricate, and Still shows off her technical mastery to the fullest. Hoover's "Medieval Suite" is the most conventional of the three, yet it has moments of originality, as in the evocative opening movement. However, the work is quite clearly, and too directly, modeled on the music of Howard Hanson and Walter Piston.


Colorado Daily
Wednesday September 29, 2004

Still impressive
By KRISTIN LOCKWOOD Colorado Daily Staff

Let's face it. Classical music is not everyone's cup of tea. In a fast-paced society that is obsessed with technology, cash, and shortcuts, music involving a flute can feel out of synch for a lot of people. Despite her own accelerated lifestyle, New Zealand native Alexa Still manages to make the flute the focus of her vivacity.

Long, laid back, and wonderfully sincere, Still's five-foot-ten frame dazzles international listeners with another compact disc (one of over a dozen) on the KOCH International Classics label. Released on Sept. 21, Still presents another skillful showcase of classical sounds accompanied by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

"[Performing] Live is more fun, but recording is a very good discipline," says Still from under a loose wisp of wavy, blond locks. "This concerto I'm particularly proud of because there are some really hard pieces."

Alexa first ventured to the States for four years of study with Samuel Baron and Thomas Nyfenger at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. "It was fantastically advantageous for me to learn from both of them at once," says Still.

She soon earned a master's degree and a doctorate, as well as praiseworthy competition successes. At 23, the long-legged sensation won the position of principal flutist of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and returned home for 11 years.

Just two years after touring and earning a Fulbright Award in 1996, she was appointed Associate Professor of Flute at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Alexa has presented concertos, master classes, and recitals in England, Slovenia, Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Korea and throughout the United States.

"I love Boulder," Still articulates through a warm accent and straightforward eye contact. "I like the people and the atmosphere. It's similar to New Zealand, because people appreciate the outdoors and natural beauty."

Alexa began her love affair with the flute when she was just eight years old. Fathered by a saxophonist of a jazz band, Still grew up around records perpetually being played throughout the house. She retains an eclectic taste in compositions by plucking influences from such sources as older jazz-blues styles and snippets of country, bluegrass, and old Celtic material.

This estimably self-motivated flutist continues to challenge her own potential. "I focus on different colors or types of sound, and that's not everyone's aesthetic. My emphasis is on playing vivid," she says with relaxed, curling posture.

Still finds challenges and rewards in any piece's given orchestration. When she plays with other instruments, it is largely either with an orchestra or a piano accompanist. "When playing with an orchestra, there is less flexibility. It's more about steamrolling through with your ideas. Whereas with piano, it's more collaborative, more spontaneous, and more interesting in that sense," she says.

The most difficult hurdle Still overcame was finding a school to study at. She scored a spot at Stony Brook. Still enjoys the anonymity she found in the States, after coming from smaller New Zealand, where she was quite well known in the general public.

Motorcycle riding, cowboy-boot-wearing Still escapes the flutist stereotype with flying colors. Her weather-beaten hands do not resemble the musical delicacies they produce. But as Alexa pools together her cozy hybrid of honest, amiable insights, it becomes evident from where her graceful expressiveness originates.

For Alexa, musical expression is central. "When it's going right, I become one with what's coming out," she says. "It's incredible. I become intensely in the moment ... but it's the 'intensely' part that's difficult to articulate. I don't enjoy music that stirs you intellectually as much as when it stirs you emotionally. I enjoy feeling through music."

Alexa Still remains keenly sensitive to her vibrant coloring of sound.

Says Still, "I hope my music, for a little time, makes people forget about their problems. Cause that's what music does, really."


Alexa Still, flute
"The Pied Piper Fantasy"
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra; James Sedares, conductor
KOCH International Classics

Alexa Still is one of Boulder's best-kept secrets, but she needn't be. This internationally renowned flutist, originally from New Zealand, and now happily ensconced on the faculty of CU-Boulder's School of Music, has released a remarkable output of performances on disc over the past 15 years, a vast majority of which are works by composers living, or of recent vintage. Discovering her work is a pleasure.

She is paired here with her frequent collaborators the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of James Sedares. The centerpiece of this recording is John Corigliano's 1981 story-suite, "The Pied Piper Fantasy," but the disc also holds Katherine Hoover's 1983 "Medieval Suite" as well as the premiere recording of Chen Yi's "The Golden Flute," composed in 1997.

With the solid and sensitive collaboration of her fellow musicians, Still demonstrates why she is so highly regarded. Most of even the upper echelon of classical instrumentalists are more noted for its competence and precision, rather than innovation and individuality. Still's championing of unfamiliar yet rewarding material, as well as her command of line and nuance, is extraordinary. Her strong attack and control of dynamic gives her work an unmistakable stamp, whether she is negotiating the difficult passages of Hoover's moody suite, or galumphing merrily through the spirited, colorful passages of the disc's namesake piece.

Most impressive of all is the shimmering tone and pure expressiveness she gives to Yi's adventurous three-movement concerto. Note to Still: send us more, soon!

- Brad Weismann


Griffes, Hanson etc
"This is another winner...there is a golden thread of warm and accessible melodism, of frequent recourse to exotic impressionistic modal devices, of sheer poetry, that gleams throughout this wonderfully chosen program. The playing has recourse to a nicely varied pallet of flute tone, is impeccable in technique and taste, seductive in phrasing.
...This release is indispensable for the flute aficionado, highly recommended for anyone convinced or needing convincing of the existence of rare beauty in 20th century music, and prescribed medicine for anyone needing relief from stress."

        Stevenson Classical CD Guide

Jacob, Arnold II, Musgrave
"Thea Musgrave's Orfeo II is a dramatic work: the flute plays the part of Orpheus... Still plays the part of Orpheus so convincingly that I cannot separate her from the music (I even think of Orpheus as "she".)"

        American Record Guide

W G Still: "Summerland"
"Alexa Still was heard on the previous Koch disc as well. Her technical abilities and musicianship are exceptional.... Alexa Still wrote thorough, literate notes to round out a very interesting release."
        American Record Guide

American works for flute and piano
"Alexa Still made a superb recording on Koch a couple of years ago of under-recorded 20th century music for flute and orchestra. This new disc is equally impressive. Some of the music, like the Bloch Poems from 1958 (his last pieces, concerning mortality and his imminent death) are unfamiliar.... Still constructs an intelligent dramatic-musical narrative.
In Blues Lointains, (by) Bloch's student Quincy Porter ...a sweet expansive flute line. In IV (Rochberg), the flute's vibrato-less long notes and controlled alterations of pitch evoke a Japanese Shakuhachi...
...Still creates some very nice colors in this (Barber Canzone) very quiet piece by varying her vibrato. The Copland Duo is the first good recording I have heard. Still plays so well in tune that there is sympathetic resonance from the piano strings. But on the flute the Vocalise (originally for flute and orchestra) sounds like scales. Even with Still's command of color and nuance, the flute can't compare to the intensity of the voice; but the transcription is Copland's own, and Still plays it as well as it can be played on the flute."

        American Record Guide

Griffes, Hanson etc
"Maurice Sharp and the Cleveland Sinfonietta released a similar album...This disc is superior to the earlier one in both in recording quality and performances.
This (Griffes) is an elegant reading of a work that, if not performed musically, can sound terrible, even boring. New Zealand-born and American-trained flutist Alexa Still handles Howard Hanson's Serenade, composed for his then-fiancee, Margaret Elizabeth Nelson, with equal elan.
...All in all it is a first class project, and we can only hope for more of the same from Koch and the New Zealanders."

        Sonneck Society Bulletin, Vol.XVIII, No.2

W G Still: Quit dat Foolnish, Summerland
"...two short pieces for flute and piano beautifully played by Alexa Still and pianist Susan De Witt Smith. The same duo has issued a collection of American pieces by such composers as Barber, Copland, Rochberg and Bloch that is interesting throughout and exquisite in a few places- notably Copland's Duo and Rochberg's Japanese-influenced "Between Two Worlds". The more one hears of Still, the more one is impressed."
        Washington Post

W G Still: "Summerland"
"New Zealand Flutist Alexa Still is not related to African American composer William Grant Still, who wrote the 10 short, melodically enchanting works featured here, but she edited some of them (originally for violin or other instruments) and she plays all of them with a technical skill and loving care that make this disc special."
        Washington Post

W G Still: "Summerland"
"Ms Still (still unrelated) herself arranged much of this music for flute...
Ms Still's advocacy is of the highest order, and her rescoring works beautifully with many of the songs, creating an airy, wistful texture. She suggests an almost French interplay of lightness and melancholy. Very occasionally her approach makes the music almost seem too pretty... In any event, this disc is lovely and can be recommended to anyone interested in American music."

        Classical Noise, Improper Bostoner

Bloch
"...These works involve the flute as the dominant vehicle, though they are not designed for virtuoso performances. Alexa Still's approach is meditative and somewhat understated, as seems appropriate.
...This is a superb release."

        American Record Guide

Bloch: Two Last Poems
"... The brief , brooding, predominantly somber Two Last Poems for solo flute and orchestra, date from 1958, the year before Bloch's death. Alexa Still is not only a very capable soloist but also wrote the informative program notes."
        Stereo Review

W G Still: Quit Dat Foolnish, Summerland
"The latter two pieces feature flutist Alexa Still and pianist Susan De Witt Smith. All the performances are highly polished; Still, a New Zealander, is a spirited and polished flutist."
        Seattle Times

W G Still: "Summerland"
"Still's music is a wonderful discovery.
This seems to be an exemplary disc to relax with on hot, sultry summer days...
Still arranged some of the pieces on this disc for flute, in keeping in the spirit of the composer, who often rearranged his pieces for different ensembles. As a flutist, Still has a big sound, a wide range of colors, and a clear sense of how to interpret each piece."

        H & B Recordings Direct

American works for flute and piano
"Still puts on a delicate display of flute voicings in Between Two Worlds, and evocation of the Japanese Shakuhachi by George Rochberg."
        CD review

WG Still: "Summerland"
"Still Popular Recordings give new life to the works of a noted composer.
A new CD coming out of New Zealand, of all places, is entirely devoted to Still's music. The moving force behind it is flutist Alexa Still (no relation)..."

        Rating ****
        Buffalo News

Jacob, Arnold, Musgrave
"Excellent performing by Ms. Still..."
        Turok's Choice

Griffes, Hanson etc
"You will come to view this disc as a gem of your collection."
        American Record Guide

Jacob, Arnold, Musgrave
"...Still is a master flutist, and plays with a great depth of expression."
        On the Air Magazine (Denver)


Jerome Moross: Flute Concerto
"...an elegant confection, a bit pat but tuneful and lighthearted, and Alexa Still plays it affectionately."
        American Record Guide

"Summerland" WG Still
"This lovely flute recital is devoted entirely to the music of Still.... Recommended first and foremost for its musical content but also for flute enthusiasts."
        CD Monthly

"Kiwi Flute"
"I think I'll move to New Zealand where remoteness has apparently produced composers without a care as to what the rest of the world thinks. Everything on Kiwi Flute .. is way out of fashion and utterly charming. Solo flutist Alexa Still produces a deep tone and plays with vivacious technique..."
        The Arizona Republic

Viennese Guitar: Schubert, Beethoven, Kreutzer
"... on the pure performance level the ensemble playing is immaculate"
        Buffalo News

Viennese Guitar: Schubert, Beethoven, Kreutzer
"Intimate chamber music played by five accomplished musicians... a delightful and charming disc."
        American Record Guide

Viennese Guitar: Schubert, Beethoven, Kreutzer
"Ms Faletta is joined by distinguished colleagues flutist Alexa still, violist Paul Neubauer and cellist Ronald Thomas. The ensemble delivers a relaxed and charming performance... Throughout this piece, and the entire disc, New Zealander Alexa Still's playing is superb. She possesses a lovely tone, clear articulation and exudes a light grace so appropriate to this music."
        The Clarinet, Vol 26, Number 2

English Reviews

GO TOP

Jacob, Arnold, Musgrave
"...this release provides a stunning showcase for the astonishing Alexa Still, who negotiates all the varied technical and interpretive demands of these three very different sources as effortlessly and as reflexively as mere breathing... a must for all collectors of British Music and flutomanes everywhere."
        Fanfare


WG Still: "Summerland"
"Still records Still again!
This is of course the splendidly enterprising New Zealand flautist Alexa Still in a second CD...
Alexa Still's commitment to American music comes across on a winning anthology of mixed composers I reviewed, but whatever she plays sounds musical in every turn of the phrase. ... Note the slides and blues notes in the atmospheric Here's One, matched with bluesy post-impressionist harmony. As a whole the collection is most attractive- some of its components will be a boon to Classic FM."

        Gramaphone

American works for flute and piano
"Here is a very attractive and musically substantial disc featuring American flute music composed between the years 1928 (the Porter and the Copland Vocalise) and 1982 (the Rochberg).As I recall, Still's previous Koch disc was very well received in this and other publications. She is principal flute of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and her level of artistry certainly illustrates the decentralized and unpredictable distribution of instrumental talent among the world's orchestras today.
...Laurel released a recording of Muczynski's Flute Sonata with former New York Philharmonic principal Julius Baker accompanied by the composer, a gifted pianist. Hard as it is to believe, Still and Smith offer a performance that is at least as meticulously executed and thoughtfully conceived.
... All these pieces are played with fine musicianship and technical polish by Alexa Still..."

        Fanfare

American works for flute and piano
"The New Zealand flautist, Alexa Still, brings such conviction to what she plays that this whole, generous programme makes a strong appeal. She starts with Barber's arrangement of the magical flute solo from the slow movement of his Piano Concerto - a bit breathy in the lower register but enchanting in atmosphere.
... and the sonata by Robert Muczynski, where she makes the Andante of this neo-classical work cohere beautifully...
...In the set of five pieces that make up "Between Two Worlds" (1982) George Rochberg... These are neatly sketched miniatures, admirably delivered.
...Like everything else the Two Last Poems receive a convincing performance from both players and conclude a well-planned anthology."

        Gramaphone

Bloch Two Last Poems
"Still projects a beautiful tone for the wistful, self-possessed Two Last Poems.... Anyone with a taste for atmospheric musical evocations cannot fail to enjoy them."
        Gramaphone

Bloch Two Last Poems
"The new Koch release is a valuable and important addition...
The music is personal and introspective, at times almost diffuse, with the flutist's role more that of a reflective psychological protagonist that a virtuoso soloist.
...In her generous and generally informative annotation, which summarized Bloch's entire career, Alexa Still raises the hackneyed issue of Bloch being labeled a "Jewish composer"...
... The music is played with great conviction and considerable precision..."

        Fanfare

Griffes, Hanson etc
"This is a beautiful disc of beautiful music, but the saccharine content is as high as the variety is low. This is the cream of the repertoire of accompanied flute pieces which emphasize the instrument's sustained tones. One cannot criticize the composers for writing such lovely music, or Still for playing them so superbly...
I know there are listeners who wallow in hour after hour of seductive flute music; this disc should be a highlight for them."

        Fanfare

Richard Rodney Bennett
"...In all these pieces, as in the jazz-crossover concerto Memento (1983), Still is as alert and mellifluous a flautist as one could want..."
        The Sunday Times (England)

Richard Rodney Bennett
"Alexa Still is her dependable self on this disc, which is dedicated to her now-deceased early mentors Thomas Nyfenger and Samual Baron. Her concentration and full tone maximize the music's appeal..."
        Fanfare

Jacob, Arnold, Musgrave
American works for flute and piano
"She presents us with a fascinating and hugely enjoyable programme of works....In all cases and on both discs the playing is sparkling, vibrant and sensitive."
        Pan (English Flute Society Journal)

W G Still: Quit Dat Foolnish, Summerland
"...Both of these are effective miniatures in a conversational style, neatly performed."
        Gramaphone

Viennese Guitar: Schubert, Beethoven, Kreutzer
"Her (Faletta's) partners will be well known to music lovers and collector- groups that in this instance aren't likely to be mutually exclusive. The performance is marvellous...
... due to the fine sense of ensemble throughout, this generous recording is highly recommended."

        Fanfare

New Zealand Reviews

GO TOP

New Zealand Listener
by Ian Dando

CARL VINE: SONATA FOR FLUTE, Alexa Still (flute), Stephen Gosling (piano) (Koch). Alexa Still is a smart repertoire picker. Sofia Gubaidulina is the only name composer to me here, with two refreshing early works. Otherwise, Still mines a wealth of flute/piano plums from nine largely unknown, late 20th-century overseas composers. She stamps her expressive playing instantly in the opening piece – Ian Clark’s unforgettable Orange Dawn, with its unusual simulated two-part flute texture in the middle. She breathes poignancy into Three Songs Without Words by Israel’s Paul Ben-Haim. Its long-spun Jewish melodies come straight from the heart. Sonata for Flute and Piano (1993) by Australia’s Carl Vine is a modern flute masterwork. A highly stimulating collection brilliantly played.


From New Zealand Herald, Arts and Literature,
On track: Still at top of her game
By William Dart
June 5, 2008

Flautist Alexa Still may have returned to Sydney after her Chamber Music New Zealand tour with Roger Chase and Yolanda Kondonassis and her stint at the Taupo Festival, but she has left us with a splendid new CD in which she is partnered by Stephen Gosling.

Still needs little introduction and American-based pianist Gosling visited us in 2004 to premiere the John Psathas Concerto.

He was also a decidedly hip presence on Psathas' Rhythm Spike and Fragments albums.

Carl Vine's 1992 Sonata would be the major attraction for many on the new CD.

It is a sparkle - two outer movements bubble with minimalist glee while the Australian composer's central slow movement reveals Still's expert tonal control and Gosling's ability to explore the full colour range of his instrument.

Later on, Still acknowledges her new home with a luminous account of Goldfish through summer rain by Australian composer Anne Boyd.

Inevitably, the duo dallies on the lighter side for some of the selections, with mixed results. I found the Jewish-tinged lyricism of Paul Schoenfield's Achat Sha'alti a mite kitsch and Ian Clarke's Orange Dawn almost toppled into New Age atmospherics' evoking an East African sunrise.

Humour saves the day. Dan Welcher's All the Words to All the Songs dips into the songbooks of Elvis Presley and others as a tribute to the late Vincent Hammond, pianist and popular song buff. Even if you remain stony-faced at the King's I Can't Help Falling in Love with You slipping and sliding from key to key, you will be won over by Still's burnished tone.

Simplicity wins out in three Songs without Words by Paul Ben-Haim, one of Israel's great composers, while Joseph Schwanter's Soar is a 95-second blast of hi-energy virtuosity.

Best of all, Still and Gosling add two pieces to the growing discography of Tatar composer Sofia Gubaidulina.

While an early Allegro rusticana has the stamp of the sardonic Shostakovich all over it, Sounds of the Forest is more intriguing in its musical idiom. Trills and gruff piano murmurs suggest primeval mysteries in Gubaidulina's forest, a landscape in which one just might be able to imagine the reedy breathings of the accordion-like bayan.

* Alexa Still and Stephen Gosling (Koch CD 7658)


Bloch: two Last Poems
"The Two Last Poems...(Maybe)...really is Bloch's last work, and should be grabbed by every concert flautist, for it is an ambiently evocative two-movement piece that will readily make friends for those into its particular soundworld.
All the performances are clearly first rate, very alluring and tonally most alluring. Alexa Still confirms her status as a world-class flute player ..."

        Dominion (New Zealand)

Griffes, Hanson etc
"Flute Encore Impressive****
After the earlier highly successful release, Alexa Still has got further (and deeper) with this batch of substantial works of comparatively recent origin."

        Christchurch Press

Jacob Arnold Musgrave
Griffes, Hanson etc
"These two compact discs...are a delight to listen to. Not only is out talented flautist Alexa Still... displayed to good advantage, but she is playing such interesting, reasonably modern, music, rather than just the hackneyed repertoire for her instrument.
...Alexa Still has a fine sense of rhythm, great technical facility, and is always secure in her tunings. Her tonal colour is a silvery cooler one than, say, the golden sparkle of James Galway, but still impressive in its artistry."

        Otago Daily Times

Jacob, Arnold, Musgrave
"Still's Melting Flute Sounds*****
The melting sounds of Alexa Still's flute alone, regardless of what she plays, are something to marvel at. This programme is designed to put an end to any thoughts of constructive criticism at the outset. It is an instrument made in heaven surely.
Unashamedly romantic, the works of Gordon Jacob, Malcom Arnold and Thea Musgrave, the Scottish composer, capture the sheer beauty of the instrument and in doing so win a place in the 1995 honours list.
Remarkable recorded sound quality is in line with the artistic standards. Still works wonders with the quiet and lively passages with a flair rarely encountered.
All this adds up to a very special recording that deserves highest praise for technique, taste, and that "X" quality that demands fullest attention."

        Christchurch Press

Jacob, Arnold, Musgrave
"Kiwi Flute is Soaring
Flautist Alexa Still so encouraged the American Koch label with her first CD that two more have been released... Dr. Still is enjoying a growing reputation as an interpreter of contemporary flute music.
Still's fluent embouchure and her capacity to exploit soaring melodic lines with clarity and assurance are well displayed here (Jacob)... the soloist is given every opportunity to shine..."

        New Zealand Herald

John Rimmer: "Seaswell"/Manu
"... played by great sensitivity and subtlety by Alexa Still"
        Music in New Zealand

American works for flute and piano
"The composer (Copland) believes lyricism is the flute's special quality and Still underlines that belief with a sensitive performance."
        New Zealand Herald

Jacob, Arnold, Musgrave
"Still plays superbly. Still's playing... will, I'm sure, see a repeat of the rave notices overseas and solid sales."
        Dominion

Griffes, Hanson etc
"... it is significant, not only for the unusual (and mainly American) repertoire, but for the keenly expressive and insightful playing of Alexa Still. This is music that makes very little demand. All the scores are extremely colorful and often exotic, and Still manages to involve one throughout."
        Listener and TV times (New Zealand)

Kiwi Flute
"What a superb player Alexa Still really is. Rippling cascades of notes are contrasted with an effortless legato as the score demands."
        Concert FM

Griffes, Hanson etc
"Still shines in the solo spotlight
...Alexa Still shows here that her smooth concert work is the product of a fine virtuoso skill. A well-nourished tone, fluency of phrase and a warmly radiant projection make this collection of contemporary works, largely American, an unexpected delight. She has been complimented before on her happy facility for unearthing works that are new but of substantial interest- both for player and listener. They are here.
Accompanied by Nicholas Braithwaite and the New Zealand Chamber Orchestra, she brings out the dreamlike impressionism of works by Griffes, Hanson, Hovhaness, Bloch, Kennan and Foote, reserving the Malcolm Arnold First Flute Concerto as the piece de resistance. And a fine performance it is.
The British writer's beautifully crafted, neo-classical "quarter-hour concerto" unashamedly aims for brilliance of execution and the artist achieves this in fine measure. With the flute placed well forward to display the splendid sonorities to the full, Alexa Still is able to find that correct balance between expression and bravura...
Arthur Footes' A Night Piece, quietly reminiscent of Brahms, is a contrast in mood and pace. Still's sensitive embouchure delivers it wholeheartedly and with the utmost polish. This is a highly recommended disc."

        New Zealand Herald

"Summerland" W G Still
"Still plays Still, with charm
... all his works have an easy, mellifluous feel to them, and Alexa Still finds enough examples to soothe the tired listener.
...These performances help (W.G.) Still's music enormously. Both Alexa Still and her acompanist are stylish."

        Dominion (New Zealand)

Moross: Concerto
"In the flute concerto, Alexa Still is her usual highly competent self."
        The Dominion