“Miss Rudich plays very beautifully, producing a smooth, silken tone, phrasing with spirited elegance, and operating with a crucial sense of linear continuity that characterizes a polished artist.”
–The New York Times
“Rachel Rudich’s playing seems to exhaust the possibilities of extended techniques for the instrument. One had to admire the flutist’s deep virtuosity and probing seriousness, just as one had to marvel at her ability to memorize, play, and dance a complicated Stockhausen score.”
–The Los Angeles Times
“Davidovsky’s Quartetto…a piece of almost theatrical intensity and wattage… received a performance of the greatest urgency and precision by Rachel Rudich.”
–The Boston Herald
“Rachel Rudich’s flute, bass flute and piccolo covered tough musical terrain… her phrasing led onward, undaunted by impossible technical demands.”
–The Washington Post
“Elliott Carter’s Esprit Rude/Esprit Doux was given its New York premiere by Rachel Rudich… a captivating, lively dialogue…bright, shapely bird song…bubbling, unlabored, lovable invention… the performance was attractive and accomplished.”
–The New Yorker
“The evening’s performance was on the usual high level, with spectacular solo work by the flutist Rachel Rudich.”
–The Los Angeles Herald Examiner
“Rachel Rudich’s flute purred, moaned, whispered and rattled through many mesmeric and sensual passages.”
–The Village Voice
“Rachel Rudich is a remarkably fluent instrumentalist with a talent for involvement in first-rate music elsewhere neglected.”
“Rachel Rudich, flute soloist and expert principal of the ensemble, added luster to these polished performances.”
–The Los Angeles Times
“First class flutist…virtuosic technique…innate musicianship…a dynamic performance.”
–The New York Times
“…extended contributions by… Rachel Rudich on shakuhachi…at once inventive and atmospheric.”
–The Los Angeles Times
“Rachel Rudich is a remarkably fluent instrumentalist with a talent for involvement in first-rate music elsewhere neglected. A must-have for the new-music buff and a good bet for the merely curious.”
– Fanfare Magazine (Mike Silverton) review of The Universal Flute, Music and Arts Programs of America CD
“(David Felder’s) November Sky (Bridge Records) retains an ethereal, ecstatic character throughout. Felder poses enormous challenges to his performers; the soloist (Rachel Rudich) plays piccolo, flute, alto flute, and bass flute against a tapestry of electronic sounds which include processed flute tones.”
– Fanfare Magazine (James H. North)
“I recommend Music for Flute and Percussion (CRI label). As curious a pairing as flute and percussion may seem, Rudich and Grossman are at obvious ease in the other’s company, and the program is gracious and surprisingly easy on the ear. Lou Harrison’s First Concerto for Flute and Percussion is … poetic. The two principal instrumentalists produced this recording, and it was they, obviously, who selected its contents. The music, with the exception of Harrison and Yasuo Sueyoshi’s, which bend toward the shamanic, is harmonically and structurally “modern,” playful, and winning. Preston Trombly’s Duo opens briskly with bongos and works its way through seven distinct and contrasting sections; his only slightly longer, three-movement Trio’s textures, enriched by double bass and expanded percussion, move along similarly well-thought-out lines. The sense of form pleases, as do the luscious sounds. Harvey Sollberger’s Double Tryptich achieves its voluptuous, tricky symmetry in an amusing way that I urge you to find out about in the notes—which is to say, go get this disc.”
– Fanfare Magazine (Mike Silverton)
(In Encounters: Complete works for flute by Karl Kohn, Bridge Records…) “Eight of the works were premiered by Rachel Rudich, who brings authority to the entire corpus in the reflection and subtle nuance of her immaculate technique. There are gems to be found at many turns: the marvelous opening of Concords; the intricate pathways of Ternaries; the mysterious four Paronyms, each for a different member of the flute family. Kohn uses the flute in a relentlessly fascinating way, enigmatic and inward seeking, although a certain sameness creeps in from time to time, and the additional complexity of a violin in A Bar for Three is a welcome change in texture and color. The piano parts are of equal interest and pleasure whether played by the composer or by Gayle Blankenburg. The recordings, made at Little Bridges Hall, Pomona College, in Claremont, capture the facets of sound as if they were diamonds.”
– Gramophone Magazine (Laurence Vittes)
“Karl Kohn’s Encounters: Complete Works for Flute featuring Rachel Rudich is a must have for every 20th- and 21st-century music fan. This complete collection of Karl Kohn’s flute works is a project of love that should be cherished by flute teachers, players, and listeners alike. Flutist Rachel Rudich has worked with well-known American composer Karl Kohn not only to perform and record the works, but to organize and track down all the scores for the pieces. Their musical partnership and friendship started back in 1992 and has continued to blossom over the years, allowing him to write numerous pieces for Rudich. All in all, this collection houses all of Kohn’s flute repertoire, totaling more than two hours of widely varying music. This marks Rudich’s fourth solo album and what she believes to be her 42nd overall album. Fanfare has published reviews for 21 of those recordings! Almost all of these I would consider highly positive or rave reviews. Rudich’s talent sparkles with flawless technique throughout multiple eras of music in at least a dozen different musical styles.”
– Fanfare Magazine (Natalie Szabo)
“Encounters, a two-disc release from the Bridge label, offers the complete works for flute by the American composer, pianist, and educator, Karl Kohn. Kohn’s writing for the flute—indeed for all the instruments featured on this recording—enthusiastically celebrates their potential for beauty, songfulness, and, on occasion, virtuoso display. More than half the works on this disc were premiered by its featured artist, flutist Rachel Rudich, who plays superbly throughout. Rudich’s warm and attractive tone, evenly produced throughout the instrument’s range, provides constant pleasure. Likewise, her elegant, supple phrasing, and mastery of a wide range of colors greatly enhance the music’s impact and pleasure. The remaining artists are outstanding as well. The sense of generous, heartfelt collaboration is keenly apparent throughout. Rudich’s comments, as well as the composer’s program notes, enhance the booklet and listening experience. With Karl Kohn’s Encounters, Bridge continues its long and proud tradition of sharing first-rate performances of worthy contemporary works. Recommended.”
– Fanfare Magazine (Ken Meltzer)
“This album is titled Encounters: Complete Works for Flute. To listen to… (this album) is to enter a world of beauty. It might be couched in terms of dissonance (as the 1966 Encounters for flute and piano might seem to imply), but everywhere there is an awareness of the beauty and joy in music-making. Kohn is himself the pianist in the first track, from which this twofer takes its name. The title came initially from the Encounters Series of the Pasadena Art Museum; it also encapsulates much of the music itself: an encounter, a dialogue, between two instruments. It became the first of a series of “encounters” for solo instrument and piano. Rudich is a most eloquent soloist, while Kohn’s playing is magnificently varied, unafraid to present disjunctive lines, aware that they will not break the prevailing sense of cordiality.
Pianist Gayle Blankenburg is particularly impressive in the Largo movement of Three Pieces for Flute and Piano (1958), finding true expression in Kohn’s expansive gestures; also, she almost makes the piano sparkle in the final number. The Romanza (1972) is a more immediately pastoral piece. It was written for the composer’s daughter, Emily, for her to play with her father. It exudes melody and, later, a sense of capriciousness that is most appealing, with Gayle Blankenburg’s staccato nicely matched to Rudich’s. That sense of playfulness seems to be something of a constant in Kohn’s music, as we clearly hear it again in Dialogues for flute/piccolo and piano from 2009. Dating from a decade later, the Cantilena for flute and organ breathes a different air. Written for the late Doriot Anthony Dwyer (for many years principal flute for the Boston Symphony, and who also taught at Pomona College), it opens with an extended flute solo, so much so it would appear as a piece for flute alone to the unwary. The entrance of the organ certainly changes the playing field, enshrouding the flute in a cloud of color. The piece is, timbrally unique and is absolutely mesmeric, a collage of sound.
The word “paronym” refers to a word or term having the same root. Kohn’s Paronyms (1974) has four movements, each for a different type of flute: alto, piccolo, bass, and standard flute (in that order). It is instructive in that it reveals just how sensitive Kohn is to the inherent characters of each flute, something Rudich and Blankenburg themselves adjust to with expertise. Kohn never writes so that the flute is in any way compromised by the piano in terms of audibility. Everything is so carefully calibrated. It’s nice to have the alternation from low to high and back again by placing the piccolo second. Although inevitably somewhat avian at the opening, the musical territory soon becomes more serious, even decidedly spiky. Perhaps it is the mystery of the bass flute movement that impresses the most before the finale bathes us in enigma. This is no slip of a piece: over 28 minutes in duration all told, it offers space for a real examination of the various flutes’ characteristics while reminding us, via Kohn’s harmonic language, that they are all branches of the same tree.
The 1993 piece that begins the second disc, Ternaries (and which indeed riffs on groups of three) is the only piece not recorded in 2021; it dates back to 1996. Not that there is a drop in recording quality, though. I like the pun on “ternaries” and “turnaries” explained in the interview above; a sense of arabesque suffuses the flute part, with Kohn’s piano contribution dancing just as much. The first movement, Largo, is like Schoenberg but more fun. But the lightheartedness gets colored and starts to investigate more profound spaces. Wherever one is emotionally, the sense of dialogue between flute and piano remains.
It is a nice programming touch that the second piece on the first disc (For Four Flutes) is balanced by the second track on the second disc (More for Four Flutes); similarly, the Three Pieces for Flute and Piano is balanced by Three More Pieces for flute and piano, with Kohn’s sense of expressive freedom perhaps more marked in the latter set. While the “four flutes” pieces retained personnel, however, Blankenburg cedes to the composer at the piano for the Three More Pieces, and it is probably a reflection of the closeness between composer and his interpreters that both pieces feel fully honored.
It’s interesting to have the addition of a guitar to the flute, a well-loved combination of course but refreshingly utilized here in Concords (1986). Again, there is a close link between composer and performer, here with the guitarist Jack Sanders. Evocative and dreamy, I even wondered if at times a shakuhachi was playing the solo line.
The second disc also includes A Bar for Three (2016, for flute, violin, and piano). It is housed in “bar” form (AAB), hearkening back to the Minnesingers and later the Mastersingers as well as to Protestant chorales. We are a long way from Wagner’s Meistersinger here. It is instead the Second Viennese School that seems to feed the musical language here, while Cantilena (2012, for flute and piano) lives up to the lyrical, almost vocal intent implied by the title. A moment of stretching the boundaries at the climax dies down naturally to more contented harmonic areas before the solo flute piece Soliloquy IV finds Rachel Rudich at her most eloquent. Finally, there comes the most recent piece, Recollections (2021, flute and piano). Kohn is right that there is something of a consistent line running through the six decades-plus of his compositional career. As a moment of reflection, it is perfect, and perfectly performed here.
In summary, this is a (double CD) that will enchant, delight, and stimulate in equal measure, and is clearly a labor of love by the performers.
– Fanfare Magazine (Colin Clarke)