“Gustafson was worthy of all praise for presenting the two works that opened the second half, Of Water and Clouds (1986) and the connected “…of rain and gusty wind” by Elena Ruehr, the latter commissioned by Gustafson, and here receiving its world premiere. Ruehr, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a brilliant and original voice deserving wider recognition. She already has a substantial body of string quartets to her credit. She appeared on stage to give the audience a view of the genesis of the two works, the earlier depicting the process of transformation in the cycle of rain and evaporation, written for her fellow student composer and flutist Su Lian Tan, and the latter reflecting some East Asian poetry on the cycle of life (“young, old, plump, slim”). Both works are difficult, challenging, but in-drawing and clear in their structure (she invited us to guess which musical motive in the former represented “evaporation”). The latter made extensive use of quarter-tone slides (an oriental touch?), very effectively done by Gustafson, and heightened in their effect by her relatively straight and vibrato-less tone. They were warmly welcomed by the audience, and certainly represented the musical climax of the evening. I hope they will soon be as familiar to the flutist as the Martinů.”
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