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Excerpts of Press Reviews|
(American, English and New Zealand Press)
English recital review:|
"This was Alexa Still's first performance in Britain. I certainly hope it will not be her last. This was some of the best flute playing I have heard. Alexa Still has a gorgeous sound, has a limitless technique and combines this with the musical intelligence to give utterly ravishing performances. Such is her musicianship and her commitment to the music that her performance of the Reinecke sonata actually made me like the work for the first time... Her recital ended with a brilliant performance of the sonata by Lowell Liebermann... When Alexa Still next gives a recital, be at the head of the queue for tickets."
Pan magazine (England)
American recital reviews:
"Miss Still has, among other qualities, an ear for pieces that are not only new but substantially interesting. This listener found himself so involved in the music at hand that the artist's technical sureness and musical intensity were noticed only in retrospect. This is meant as a compliment...
...one could only admire her easy shifting of stylistic gears..."
The New York Times, Bernard Holland
"Alexa has explored the range of her instrument fully, and knows how to coax nuance upon nuance from it. Tall, slender and flexible in person, her playing matched her impressive stature.... Alexa's ability to whisper or shout with her instrument as she needed made her performance very, very special."
Peninsula News (Los Angeles)
"Still and flute perform brilliantly
...Still demonstrated in a ravishing performance of the Prokofieff, which earned her a standing ovation at the end of the concert. In some ways the flute original is better than the more familiar version for violin. The melody of the andantino sings better, and the sections influenced by jazz seemed to "swing" more- but maybe that was just Still's idiosyncrasy. The rollicking scherzo was particularly impressive.
... The (Messian: Le Merle Noir) blackbird's buzz-trill Still achieved on the flute was unbelievable.
She showed off still more... in a new work for flute alone called Jumping Fish by Robert Dick. Didn't think the flute could play two themes simultaneously, not just by jumping from one to another, like Galway? Listen to this piece, with its deliberate undertones, overtones and sounds that seem to emerge from the barrel of the instrument all by themselves. In some passages it even seemed as if there were voices, speaking conversationally somewhere on stage. A tour de force. Still has recorded a considerable amount of modern music. One hopes that she has included Messian's birds and is working on the Jumping Fish."
Portland Press Herald (Maine)
"Flutist Alexa Still of New Zealand gave an outstanding performance when she pinch-hit for cellist Dmitry Yalonsky... Alexa stepped in without preparation. She gained immediate rapport with her audience demonstrating her professional experience and musical talent. The audience loved her and applause was sustained."
The South Shore Record (Long Island, New York)
"Alexa Still, flutist, charmed the audience...Her playing was flawless and her interpretations showed understanding of composers intent that comes with many years of application to expressive musical technique."
Journal (Queens, New York)
"Still played all well, but the Debussy stuck out as the "piece de resistance"... it grabbed the audience with a haunting, flowing beauty of line."
Three Village Herald, New York
" ... The recital was an awesome display of technique, raw energy, and emotion worn on the proverbial sleeve...a musical event that will remain a highlight in live performances. With humour and dramatic flair, Still entertained and dazzled the audience.... monster recital!!"
Oklahoma Flute Society Newsletter
"Jeanne Baxtresser and Alexa Still performed duos and thrilled the audience with exceptionally beautiful playing."
Colorado Flute Association Newsletter
"Alexa Still's use of air demonstrates bold control and colorful contrasts of unrestrained beauty. She breathes life into her flute from deep within, truly making the flute an extension of her physical being. Her superb technical facility and captivating musical expression grip her audience in attentive anticipation. The stunning artistry she displays in each performance makes us eagerly await the next."
Colorado Flute Association Newsletter
New Zealand Recital reviews:
"The most popular concert was probably given by NZSO principal flutist Alexa Still, who could have filled a venue twice the size..."
New Zealand Listener (Roger Joyce), on lunchtime concert series of 1992 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts
"The second half of the concert began with Alexa Still riding in on her motorbike to perform Syrinx, by Debussy. I was left a little incredulous and before she removed her helmet I fully expected it to be either meatloaf or Alessandra Marc on diet pills. Nevertheless, the lyrical strains of her solo flute wafting into the air more than compensated for the carbon monoxide."
Nelson Daily Mail
"SOLO FLUTE CHARMS AND ASTONISHES IN VARIED PROGRAMME
Alexa Still is one of New Zealand's most distinguished resident recitalists; the public is aware and we had a repeat of the overflow problem...
The music chosen was adventurous, entertaining and there was enough substance. That goes without saying when a programme begins with Bach... it was a performance of elegance, liveliness and wonderful balance.
There were a couple of showpieces- a little etude by a 19th century Dane called Joachim Anderson, and Paganini's 24th caprice, the playing of which would have astonished even Paganini.
There was a set of eight peices by Hindemith played so engagingly that none of his sharp angles and acid flavours were audible. Then came a charming piece by Ibert, a witty one by Douglas Mews and a brief attention-grabbing venture into the avante-garde by American Robert Dick, spiced with multiphonics and glissandi. Best known no doubt was Debussy's Syrinx, played beguilingly, even erotically. Not every flute player could sustain a whole recital alone, without accompaniment. Alexa can."
The Evening Post
"Brilliant recital opens music society's series
...Brilliant certainly from the point of view of the character of the music and its performance; there was surface sparkle, occasional meretriciousness, but the music was also able to catch the audience sharply by the ears and lead them into the music's essence.
... totally enchanting...The playing was lithe, employing a marvellous range of breathing and articulation devices. Still has the virtuosity of better known players without having lost the power to find what is inside the music."
The Evening Post
"This was flute playing of world class, sounding as if entirely generated by breath and inflections of the tongue, so seamless and liquid was her articulation...
Her way with the delightful Poulenc Sonata was magical. Extraordinary fluency and tonal variety, evoking the sunny rationality of his style. Whether from ignorance or spontaneous delight applause broke out after the first movement..."
The Evening Post
"Alexa Still already has a reputation for beautifully articulated playing. This concert certainly reinforced that impression- here is an artist of real merit; warm, lyrical and totally dedicated to her craft... a scintillating evening throughout."
The Auckland Star
"To sustain a solo recital for 50 minutes and manage to maintain constant audience interest is a formidable task for a performer. Alexa Still... captivated her audience with an endless number of subtle changes of tone colour, neutralising the potential of the flute timbre to pall.
Paganini's Caprice No.24 was designed as a showpiece... the flautist brought a different quality to each variation including a superbly executed imitation of violin double stopping"
The Christchurch Press
"a brilliant solo technician"
The Waikato Times
"We may ask "Just what does an audience want to hear?" They enjoy virtuoso display, they want to hear something different as well as something familiar. They like to be kept interested, and most of all they want to be entertained...it was refreshing to get all these things in a carefully chosen programme.
Alexa Still is a national treasure ...
Next year's programme was announced last evening. The organisation could not have had a better advert than this one!"
The Daily News
"An evening of rare musical quality...
Last night's concert was one of those special evenings of rare musical quality.
I'm sure the audience had never heard a flute played in Gisbourne with such a variety of skills and the good number in the theatre responded with obvious appreciation, while the young flute students got a wonderful example of a master's approach.
The five items were well chosen to appeal to a wide range of audience tastes and give a variety of musical styles.
The opening Serenade by Beethoven... will stick in my mind for the beautiful shaping and phrasing...
(Borne: Carmen) was a veritable tour de force - it was played with beautiful shaping and grace and was a truly delightful romp. The audience loved it.
An encore was demanded and Morceau de Concours by Faure was an excellent finale... "
"...Still's tone was relaxed and intimate and floated above the piano. Her flute has a pure sound well suited to recitals and her use of vibrato was wonderfully controlled and not over indulged.... phrasing and pitch control was masterful... compelling listening.
Still definitely has what it takes to entertain an audience."
Nelson Evening Mail
"..the elegant, attractive and charming Still delighted a rapt audience with an interestingly varied programme that showed her talents to the full...a dazzling performance"
"The audience... were certainly not disappointed in their expectancy of a delightful evening of music presented by Alexa Still... an evening of sparkling, melodic and at times dramatic music. An enjoyable feature of the evening were the light-hearted and humorous introductions by Alexa Still to some of the items. It was a most enjoyable programme."
"Interestingly, the virtually full hall for this recital included many youngsters, perhaps a generation of budding flautists. Alexa Still's forte is her ability to even up the tone quality and weight of all three registers.... this evenness worked to great advantage, phrases getting a smooth, similar ride whatever the tessitura....African American William Grant Still's "Summerland" was a peaceful curtainraiser, with dreamy atmosphere and long breathed phrases...
Alexa Still showed great empathy with it (Chloe Moon sonata)...the expanded flute part (Debussy : Apres-midi d'un faun) was velvety and sensuous..."
"WHO NEEDS accompanists? Alexa Still revealed the delights of the solo flute literally breathing life into such well known pieces as Debussy's Syrinx with fine dynamic shadings and a silvery tone supported by the resonant acoustics. Her Bach Partita was enhanced by a creamy legato and judicious sound effects. Less familiar treasures were the Koechlin Chants de Nectaire, ranging from the folk like plangency of "Tityre remercie les Dieux" to the rapid attacks of "Le Rive vainqueur".
Afterlight, by contemporary US flautist Robert Dick, made imaginative use of delicate multiphonics, but apart from some glissandi (at one point remarkably going in both directions at once) was squarely twelve-tempered and disappointingly bereft of microphones. Dr. Still demonstrated persuasively with Anton Stamitz's Rondo Carpriccioso that classical stylish mannerism needs neither chords nor counterpoint, and that flowing figuration as in Joachim Anderson's Etude in G can be a fitting substitute for lush Romantic harmonies."
"Alexa Still convinced us again that she is a national treasure...."
Sir Selwyn Cushing, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Concert Season Program
"Purists may have felt a little uneasy at the appearance of Cesar Franck's violin "Sonata in A" transcribed for the flute. They need have held no fears. This was a performance which held the audience spellbound. Rampal's description calls for the use of the alto flute for the very low notes and it was a delight to hear the glorious tone produced by Alexa Still. She is a performer of deep perception and understanding with total control over the expressive qualities of the flute... this was a passionate interpretation of this passionate work."
"Acclaimed flautist offers intimate, brilliant recital.
A dazzling performance of solo flute wizardry by the elegant Alexa Still entertained those who spent Sunday afternoon at the Forrester Gallery.
... The programme presented to this privileged audience was alive with musicianship, variety and extreme virtuosity. No mean feat when the recital ran for one and a half hours!
The Forrester Gallery was full but comfortable. The acoustics and extensive solo repertoire presented by such an accomplished artist provided an intimate but seriously brilliant recital. Each piece was charmingly introduced.... Skilfully interpreted... highly virtuosic...
beautifully performed, displaying great extremes of tonality and expression... brilliant fluidity and seemingly little effort. By the end of the first half this energetic and elegant performer left us in awe of her ability.
... a wonderful example of flute technique and mastery.
Alexa's charming and relaxed approach to both her playing and her audience alongside her unpretentious elegance and brilliant musicianship on the flute make her a performer not to be missed."
Alexa Still's unaccompanied flute recital ...proved to be exhilarating and heart warming. ...Still demonstrated her mature technique and musicianship.... Still made light of the formidable technique required and despite the speed of the music introduced suitable speed and nuances and phrasing... (Robert Dick:) Afterlight required virtuosic ability to produce all the required effects and Still was more than equal to the task, giving it an absolutely amazing performance... superb programming.... Sustained applause reiterated this fact."
"Still and Irons (pianist) are deserving of the title First Ladies of Performance Music, for individually and in combination they have no peers."
"Appreciative audience served up musical feast
Alexa's playing- intricately detailed, sinuously phrased, rich in tone colors- draws one into a sound that seems to come less from her flute, than to be magically drawn from the air itself... This was a flawless concert, admirably matched in scale and style to the venue, that would be as much at home in Cheltenham or Bath as it was in Motueka."
Nelson Evening Mail
"From the first golden notes of Alexa Still's magically breathed flute, the... audience knew it was in for a treat on Saturday... the concert was all the rapt audience could hope for..."
"Night of Bach delightful from haunting start to fine finale
J S Bach always has the capacity to surprise with joy.. there are bound to be now and then listening experiences both new and significant for his audience. The flute sonata No.6 in E was one such for me on Saturday. Performed flawlessly by Alexa Still...
The whole recital was a delight from beginning to end. A superb, warm and rich performance... Maria Grenfell's Four Pooh Stories were made very accessible by Ms Still's explanation of the musical motifs, and enjoyable by her mastery of interpretation and technique- especially for Pooh readers (I had always wondered what Tigger's "warrawarrawarra" really sounded like.).."
"Flautist delights audience
A good sized audience ... gave a warm welcome to Alexa Still. The delightfully varied programme could not have failed to please everyone and the audience reaction was a sure endorsement of the fact that no-one went home disappointed.
Apart from being an excellent flautist, Still has the elegance, charm and warmth of personality to win over the most critical of audiences and never fails to present anything but a complete performance.
... Still did not waste the opportunity to demonstrate her mastery of the instrument ...the warmth of the audience acclamation demonstrated their total approbation, not only of this final item (Schubert "Trockne Blumen") but the whole most enjoyable recital..."
"... Alexa's playing was a matter of delight, whether in the brilliant little solo piece by Bozza or the formidable piquant dances by Bartok."
"Late Saturday afternoon may not sound like a good time for a concert, but this performance by Alexa Still proved to be brilliantly successful. It was a musical delight from start to finish. A solo flute recital, because of the nature of the instrument seems to need a big personality to make it succeed. Alexa Still was just such a character.
Her presence and warmth of personality made the task in hand- of communicating ideas though music- that much more comprehensible and enjoyable. With a large number of young people in the audience her easy style and enthusiastic communication was even more welcome.
... Full marks are awarded for a wonderfully varied programme showing the widest range of flute playing possibilities... in these hands a marvellous display of technical ability...
beautifully shaped and the sense of line, of going somewhere with a purpose, was unmistakable... The only item not originally written for flute was Paganini's Caprice No.24, which closed the programme. The assurance and simple panache with which the malevolently difficult piece was dealt with was quite spectacular...we heard rare virtuosity combined with warm humanity to produce a real gem of a concert."
"A recital of impossible dimensions delighted the capacity audience yesterday at the great hall, by a flautist who is fired by the love of the unorthodox and tempered by the natural ability to carry it off. Alexa Still is renowned for her daring deeds and there is nothinng more hazardous than a programme of solo flute pieces.
This was knife-edge stuff that took mature skill and bravery. Fresh from the success of a flourishing career and recordings, Alexa Still took her audience through another change of pace here... Gowned luxuriantly in period clue and gold, the flautist launched into Bach Partita in A minor, where the notes tumbled out in a breathless succession of seamless harmonies... the final Karg-Elert: Sonata Appassionata, which allowed the player to demonstrate the widest range of her considerable skills"
Still's mastery serves French music well
Alexa Still was a down to earth, comfortable presenter and an unrivalled exponent of the flute. In this performance her musical intelligence and technical mastery always served the music's meaning. Her performance... was flawless.
Still paid careful attention to detail. Shifts from vibrato to non-vibrato, clear register transitions, fluid tone and dynamic changes within the phrases were used to shape the music. Still's ability to keep an even tone over the instrument's range, to change the tone to suit different pieces, her breath control and speed all support her intention to communicate the wide content represented in the programme.
... exquisite phrasing to produce perfect performances."
Nelson Daily Mail
"Flautist gives quality recital
It is healthy to see the lunchtime concert series so well patronised... An unaccompanied recital is not the sort of medium I would expect to drag in the audiences. Such support was well deserved though.... As principal flautist of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra ( a position she won at 23), great things were expected of Still's recital. One was certainly not disappointed.
She showed her calibre from the outset in Bach's four-movement Partita in A minor for solo flute. The delicate registers of the instrument projected with richness and warmth with no trace of the breathiness evident on coping with Bach's long phrases...
Her tone blends perfectly across all registers and her tone quality is impeccable. Debussy's Syrinx was enhanced by Still's limpidly languorous style...
Works by Anderson and Bozza were light salon morsels enabling Still to show of her technical brilliance.
This quality reached its dazzling peak in her bravura performance of Paganini's Caprice No.24. I will remember this recital for one of the most musically clear and technically clear performances of Bach that I have heard for many years."
"This flute and piano recital... was one of undiluted pleasure.
The programme of four works, brief and of uniform excellence, required no filling out with encores. Discreet in length and choice of music, it left the listener completely satisfied. It began with Sonata No.6 by Bach, at once asserting Alexa Still's mastery of the long phrase and her agility in rapid passages.... The flute's opening to the A major sonata of Cesar Franck was immediate confirmation of the instrument's suitability for a work normally belonging to the violin.
Lovely too was Alexa Still's soft playing in the third movement...
...a first-rate recital."
New Zealand Herald
"... impeccable taste and understanding. Bach's A minor sonata for solo flute was equally riveting, showing a tonal warmth in which phrases were shaped, caressed almost, in the most eloquent style imaginable..."
The Waikato Times
"Chamber music concert thrilling and intense
... gave Alexa Still an opportunity to display her tremendous ability and technique. In Bach's Sonata in A minor for solo flute some of the most exquisite playing of the evening was heard. The music was Bach's but the musicianship bestowed upon it was undoubtedly Alexa Still's. Her tonal quality and phrasing, so carefully matched, was at times breathtaking. In the corrente with it's flowing melody and haunting atmosphere one felt the audience almost holding its breath, lest the spell be broken. As the music moved into the lilt of the bouree it was almost a s if time stood still. A magical moment indeed...."
"Musicianship thrills in recital
Saturday night's recital gave the large audience an opportunity to appreciate the sensitive virtuosity of Alexa Still's flute playing......
Sonata in E minor (Carl Reinecke) was for me the highlight of the evening...Still's flute tone and sustained breath control in the Andante was magical.
... Never have I heard the Habanera (Borne: Carmen) played so sensuously, or the Flower Song so poignantly whilst even the Toreador Song was given a new perspective.
With a little Faure as an encore, we were sent on our way marvelling at the musicianship flutist Alexa Still had shared with us."
"Excellent rapport with audience
...brilliantly executed. Throughout the concert.. perfect blending of tone and timbre in both virtuoso and cantabile passages was outstanding."
"The first notes caught one by surprise like drops of rain which are nevertheless expected.
This was the entrancing entrata to Beethoven's Serenade in D. Alexa Still excelled in limpid sound where tongued arpeggi or high staccato notes answered the piano... (Reinecke's Sonata) by turns lyrical, romantic and passionate, allowed full scope for expressive powers which she explioted to the full...
A fantasia (Borne: Carmen) demanded and got form the flutist technical feats of an extreme kind. After this virtuosic marathon, she wisely chose the gentle but charming Faure Piece de concours as her encore."
"Alexa Still is such a fine professional musician that a review of a concert by her really hinges on the reaction of the listener to the music...
The audience was there to hear the mellifluous sounds of her flute and they were not unhappy... the packed St Andrews's gave the musicians a most enthusiastic reception."
"Lunch date shows flautist to advantage
.. the demand exceeded the capacity of the church so the concert was delayed.... She is a first-class flute player and a most sensitive musician, and all the items on this concert showed her to full advantage..."
"Chamber Music enjoyed
..Alexa Still's tone is always delightful and her control and execution of phrases superb.... A most enjoyable evening of chamber music."
Motueka-Golden Bay News
"a richly satisfying experience for last night's large audience. The programme was well balanced, with each work preceded by appropriate spoken comments from Alexa Still giving background and setting the historical context... The Prokofieff sonata was captivating from the very start, with its haunting beautiful opening melody and later lovely floating high notes on the flute. The scherzo tripped along with suitable elan and skilful rapidity (causing a burst of spontaneous applause) There was warmth of tone in the tranquil Andante, then more of than a hint of the famous orchestration of "Peter and the Wolf" in the vigour and largesse of the allegro con brio. After the interval Alexa Still played the Fantasy No. 9 by Telemann... It was performed with consummate artistry, seemingly effortless and the vivace sparkled wonderfully....This was an extremely enjoyable concert..."
The Nelson Mail
"Distinct pleasure in evening of flute music
Alexa Still is a fine flute player, possessed of a fine, smooth sound, extremely accurate and rhythmically most secure and alive...
Rousell Jouers de Flute was a real discovery... lingered in the memory and Still played them not only beautifully, but with wit and character... splendidly played... brilliantly tossed off... there was distinct pleasure in hearing a most accomplished evening of flute playing."
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