Horn player Dave Lee’s earlier solo disc Under the Influence is re-released alongside this new one. Under the Influence’s success comes down to the range of music chosen by Lee; there can’t be many CDs which showcase Peter Maxwell Davies alongside David Bowie. Reflections is a collaboration between Lee and two colleagues – flautist Andy Findon and pianist Geoff Eales, both of whom have enjoyed careers as eclectic as Lee’s. Flute, horn and piano blend surprisingly well, and care has been taken to ensure that the results don’t tip over into bland mood music. Lee’s horn sound is fabulous – he’s one of the best legato players around, and the most impressive parts of the disc are where he lets the instrument sing. Findon is excellent at varying his platinum flute’s tone colours, and he plays with a warm vibrato which never becomes obtrusive. Barry Tuckwell released a disc of Jerome Kern songs in the 1980s which for me recalled Phantasia on this disc – an extended suite based on themes from Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. Lloyd Webber is a shrewder, more skilful composer than he’s often given credit for, and the results hang together beautifully. The arrangement is a classy one, with both solo wind parts sounding like authentic flute and horn parts.
Michael Nyman’s If offers a reminder that this composer can produce extended cantabile melodies as well as hyperactive minimalism; equally successful are the compositions and arrangements by Eales, with Song for my Mother and his take on a meeting between Chick Corea and Rodrigo especially affecting. The only dodgy moments are the folk songs which begin the album. Beautifully played, but they can’t help recalling Constant Lambert’s comment that with a folk song you can’t really do much with it apart from play it again. Louder.
Graham Rickson, theartsdesk.com, August 2011