Cover image of L'espace entre nous

L'espace entre nous

Stein-Erik Olsen

Gro Sandvik

NOEL ZAHLER: L'espace entre nous

NIKITA KOSHKIN: Oratorium Lacrimae

EDISON DENISOV: Sonata for flute and guitar


Two outstanding solo performers, Sandvik and Olsen frequently meet in a duo setting for flute and guitar. They have challenged contemporary composers to come up with developing and meaningful music for the combination, resulting in the beautiful musical dialogue on this release.

Koshkin and Denisov

Nikita Koshkin studied guitar and composition at the Moscow conservatory. His Oratorium Lacrimae (Oratorio of Grief) can be seen as a comment to the values of the present day. Edison Denisov was a leading Russian composer in the generation after Shostakovich, and not afraid to introduce avant-garde music in a country where experiments within the arts was taboo. Denisov’s list of works is long, and includes music to around 60 movies.

Liebermann and Zahler

Lowell Liebermann made his debut in Carnegie Hall only sixteen years old, with his own First Piano Sonata on the program. His list of works includes opera, orchestral, vocal and chamber music. His music is notable for its stylistic resourcefulness and polished craftsmanship. Noel Zahler, Head of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Music, Pittsburgh, has written a variety of vocal and instrumental compositions. The title track was commissioned for this recording, and the composer thrives with a ‘remarkable experience filled with the opportunity to explore a soundscape that can only be realized by the finest of performers’.

A critically acclaimed duo

Gro Sandvik, solo flute of the Bergen Philharmonic for many years and Professor at the GriegAcademy, Bergen, studied with a number of outstanding performers, including Marcel Moyse and Bud Beyer. Sandvik have given concerts and master classes in the USA, as well as Belgium, Poland and UK. Stein-Erik Olsen, Professor at the Grieg Academy, studied with Alexandre Lagoya at Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. They have both recorded several albums to great critical acclaim.


"This disc contains four major contemporary works for flute and guitar, covering a range of compositional styles. The title track, L'espace entre nous by Noel Zahler is a modernist piece which features an array of contemporary flute techniques and some interesting textural variety between the two instruments. This is fascinating and is performed with mastery and a sense of musicality. The sounds are never allowed to become gimmicky, and instead contribute to a constantly evolving and imaginative soundscape. The ten minutes duration went by quickly and I could easily have heard more. 

In stark contrast, the melodic opening of Nikita Koshkin's Oratorium Lacrimaeshows a different dimension of this instrumental combination, with the flute gently accompanied by a rhythmic guitar part. This feels more connected to the tradition of flute and guitar repertoire, and the dance-like Ave Maria is charming and well- constructed. The Dies Irae opens with a solemn guitar melody, featuring dotted rhythms, which gradually evolves into a triumphant and cheerful dance. A slower and more contemplative coda follows, and the performers do an excellent job here of bringing out the different emotions in the music. The Offertorium has a Spanish feel, and the Tuba Mirumhas the feel of a crazy, somewhat - albeit intentionally - out of control waltz. This is dazzling, and beautifully contrasted with the lyrical opening of the Credo which follows. The movement develops into an Eastern-style dance, which has much charm. The final Gloria, is the longest, and features some wonderfully executed pitch bends in the flute part, over some impressive guitar tremolos. A cheeky dance follows, and the movement builds in intensity towards its climax, with a quotation of a famous classical work bringing proceedings to a close. This is an enjoyable piece with much to offer.

Edison Denisov's Sonata has a haunting opening, which particularly features the flute and contains some fascinating quarter-tone based harmonies. This is an extended work in three movements, of which the first is longest. Denisov's musical language is expressive and has some moments of spectacular beauty. Throughout, both performers demonstrate mastery of their instruments, warm tone and excellent musical communication.

Lowell Liebermann's flute works are known for their atmospheric slow movements and technically challenging fast movements. This piece is no exception, and the two movements piece features an eight minutes slow movement with twisting melodic lines and haunting harmonies, followed by a short and dazzling Allegro. The players handle the challenges with a sense of bravura, never losing control and bringing energy to the music. In this dramatic and enjoyable performance there is an excellent sense of ensemble throughout.

This is a fascinating disc with some very interesting repertoire which will be new to many listeners. The variety contained within it is excellent and the performances are of a high quality throughout."
-Carla Rees, Musicweb (UK)

"The playing here is thoroughly professional"
-The American Record Guide 2011