Press and Reviews

"The playing throughout these disparate sessions is uniformly superb with Christina Jennings' balmy contributions being a special highlight. The notes are good and Centaur's sound is well bright, forward and well balanced, making these lithe, vibrant pieces come to life."
Barnaby Rayfield

"Waking dream , a single movement tone poem, is predictably a more unified and slightly gentler affair. Opening from a hushed, magical ether, Schwendinger (herself an accomplished flutist) writes gloriously for the flute, relishing not just the instrument’s soft grained, ‘flowery’ tone but exploring its more astringent sounds as well. It is very sensual writing, set against a vast array of shimmering orchestral colors, by turns, glittering and somber, and unlike the jarring endings of the first two concertos, Waking Dream ebbs quietly away into the ether, marking a full circle to its mysterious opening. Exquisitely played by Christina Jennings (the work’s dedicatee), this is the highlight of the disc.

"But for sheer sonic beauty, the high point was Jonathan Leshnoff’s Flute Concerto. Written just a few years ago, it’s a shimmering and absolutely beautiful work, awash in the iridescent colors and elegant savagery of French flute music of the early 20th century. Flutist Christina Jennings gave it a spirited, quicksilver performance, and Zimmerman brought a fine cinematic sweep to the orchestral side of things, with deft and detailed interplay between Jennings and the woodwinds."
Stephen Brookes
Washington Post

“Jennings is an extraordinary musician, with facile technique, a soaring tone, and a natural sense of phrasing that is often absent from flute playing.”
American Record Guide

“Jennings has got what it takes: a distinctive voice, charisma and a pyrotechnic style that works magic on the ears.”
Houston Press

“Christina Jennings, a Juilliard-trained flutist of fierce power, made a big impression…”
The Oregonian

“…an emerging artist who has the technique, musical sensibility, and personality needed for a career as a soloist.”
The Flutist Quarterly

The Birmingham News
Duo makes modern music satisfying listening
News staff writer

Those whose opinion of new classical music is less than accepting could learn a thing or two from a Hoover audience. Of course, like any music, it's all about how it's presented, and the flute and piano duo of Christina Jennings and Lura Johnson did it right. And the small, but appreciative gathering knew it.

Closing out the Hoover Library Theatre's 2006-07 season, the duo bookended their recital Friday with the 19th century masters Schumann and Franck, but the meat of the program focused on the moderns.

Jennings presented Debussy's "Syrinx" and Varese's "Density 21.5" (both for solo flute) in an informative, back-to-back juxtaposition. Under soft lighting, the flutist moved about the stage for sonic and visual effect, Debussy's soft hues contrasting nicely with Varese's aggressive, angular dissonances and piercing cries.

A polished reading of George Rochberg's "Between Two Worlds" followed. Jennings' connection to the composer can be traced through her father, Andrew Jennings, whose ensemble, Concord String Quartet, brought Rochberg's music into prominence during the 1970s. But the duo's dedication to this 1982 work proved true and palpable as they negotiated deftly through its atmospheric sonorities and thorny dissonances, making for comfortable and palatable listening.

This CD, featuring flutist Christina Jennings and pianist Lura Johnson-Lee,
presents a varied and interesting program of old favorites (Robert Schumann’s Three
Romances, Op. 94, Charles T. Griffes’ Poem, and Gabriel Fauré’s Fantasie) balanced by fresh and newly adapted works:A.J.McCaffrey’s Reflections on “Beati Quorum Via”; Jeffrey Mumford’s An Evolving Romance for flute and piano; and a transcription of Fauré’s big, four-movement Sonata in A Major for Violin and Piano,Op.13. Throughout this recording it is evident that Jennings and Johnson are truly a “duo,” a shared partnership of equal voices that are matched in musical understanding and approach to
interpretation. Even when the flute is more prominently featured in the melodic line, the sensitive underpinning and comment by the piano accompaniment is sure and supportive. The Schumann Romances, originally for oboe and frequently played on violin or clarinet, have been wholeheartedly adopted by flutists as a key portion of our sparse literature from major 19th century composers—and well we should have: this is a lovely set of pieces that require the flutist to step up and play with expressiveness and control. Jennings has just the right tone and passion needed to make these small gems shine.
The Griffes Poem likewise requires intensity and fervor to be effective, and here again Jennings is up to the challenge with a lyrical style, agile technique, and ravishing tone as the work builds toward the bright and flashing cadenzas, sways with the rhythmic pulse of the dance section, goes headlong into the mad rush of the final presto, and then settles down again with reprise of mournful and resigned opening theme. The inherent challenge of ensuring the listener does not miss the color of the original orchestral accompaniment is well met by  Johnson-Lee.

The Fauré Sonata in A is the earliest of his two violin sonatas, dating from 1876. His elegant and individual approach to Romanticism is so heartfelt in this splendid interpretation that one wonders how young Fauré could have been rejected by the Parisian musical establishment for his modernism. This work, which has been very popular with violinists, is definitely worth adapting for the flute (and it has previously been “borrowed”by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.) Like other big works taken from the violin literature, such as the Franck Sonata and the Schubert Arpeggione, this work calls for the flutist to have a full rich tone that projects while having complete control of the subtle and dynamic contrasts of shading and nuance so needed in this style. Jennings plays this work with masterful technique and musicality. Her ability to spin out a long-breathed musical line adds tremendously to the overall impact of this performance. She is especially impressive in the scherzo-like third movement,which unleashes a dazzling
display of brilliant technique and crisp articulation. The two contemporary works on the album are fresh and original while still fitting nicely in the company of these romantic works. McCaffrey’s Reflections was commissioned in memory of neurosurgeon and amateur flutist Howard Blume; and the Jennings-Johnson Duo performance convincingly
portrays the meditative and poignant mood established in this calm and lyrical work. Although he employs a wider vocabulary of modern harmonies and melodic devices, J. Mumford’s “evolving romance” has a conversational interchange and flow of ideas between the flute and piano that remains true to the overall lyricism and expressive character ofthe other works on this CD. Jennings is able to surmount the difficulties of sudden register shifts, incisive articulations, intense accents, and pungent harmonies to bring out the overall musical line in a way that makes this work sing with intensity.

The Fauré Fantasie is likewise extremely well performed and reflects the later, somewhat more impressionistic, style of the composer. Jennings tosses off her alternatively dreamy and spirited rendition of this standard conservatory solo as if the considerable difficulties were of no concern.

The producer/distributor of this recording is a New York City organization dedicated to discovering, nurturing and promoting young musicians; this recording, like Jennings’ previous release, Winter Spirits, reveals an emerging artist who has the technique, musical sensibility, and personality needed for a career as a soloist.

This is music worth finding. Both musicians are laureates of major compositions in recent years, with growing reputations in performance and teaching. I have been hearing about flutist Christina Jennings for years. (Music is an uncomfortably small world, and the same people around your age tend to weave in and out of your life in a variety of ways, from high school, conservatory, and into the professional world.)

Jennings is an extraordinary musician, with facile technique, a soaring tone, and a natural sense of phrasing that is often absent from flute playing. Pianist Lura Johnson-Lee is an equal partner. She plays with a rich, deep tone and impeccable technique. The standard literature- Schumann, Griffes, and Fauré – is all played with dazzling proficiency. There are two new pieces, McCaffrey and Mumford. The former is arrestingly simple and plaintive, and the latter left me cold. But I will skip the Mumford and continue listening to the rest of this fabulous recital. This goes on the “must hear” shelf instead of the dusty “good reference for some highly unlikely later date” pile lower down.

American Record Guide

“Christina Jennings, a Juilliard-trained flutist of fierce power, made a big impression alongside San Francisco Symphony clarinetist Ben Freimuth in Gabriela Lena Frank’s high-expressionist work, ‘Canto de Harawi.’ Melodic shrieks and eruptions contrasted with a quiet ending, when Freimuth turned his back on the audience and played his clarinet directly into the Steinway grand piano’s interior, creating beautiful, ghostly echoes.
The Oregonian

“… followed by a 75th birthday tribute to composer Mauricio Kagel - his “Pan” (homage to Mozart) played by the Cassatt String Quartet and Christina Jennings, piccolo. “Pan” is marvelous in its evocation of both the rustic god and his more polished successor. Christina Jennings made it possible with a sound that sometimes mimicked the panpipes, but always conveyed a wide variety of moods, from pensive to erotic. There is one passage where the same phrase is repeated a number of times, each in a different tone color.”
Maine Sunday Telegram

“Debussy’s Prelude was framed by the supple solos of principal flutist Christiana Jennings and reached almost
goose-bump beauty at its peaks.”
Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle

"Especially noted was Christina Jennings on alto flute during her solo accompaniment of the voice in the second movement and several solos using virtuosic fluttertonguing."
Philadelphia Enquirer

“…among the starry array of soloists, only flutist Christina Jennings inflected the music with deeper meaning. And so the music seemed interesting only for what it led to, like the freewheeling instrumentation heard later in eccentric novelty songs that Mitch Miller (who played in the Sinatra-led recordings) cooked up for Rosemary Clooney in the 1950s.”
David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer

“Jennings has got what it takes: a distinctive voice, charisma and a pyrotechnic style that works magic on the ears.”
Houston Press

“Jennings played with effortless agility, but even more impressive was her tone: throatily rich in the lower register and unusually without strain or shrillness in the upper.”
Houston Chronicle

“While still in her youth, Christina Jennings is already recognized as one of the best contemporary flutists.”
Diaria Yucatan

“She’s in that league of distinctive soloists and chamber players who can do everything. She’s got the talent. She’s got the elegance. She’s beautiful. She’s got it all!”
Carol Wincenc

updated: 3 years ago