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Large-scale compositions for the flute by prominent twentieth-century

composers are few and far between. Sergei Prokofievs Flute Sonata in D Major,
Op. 94 stands out as a welcome rarity in the flute repertoire because of its
impressive size and recognizable composer. First performed in Moscow in
December of 1943, the work was instantly popular with both audiences and
musicians. The work proved so popular, in fact, that Prokofiev almost immediately
produced a transcription for violin with the help of eminent Soviet violinist David
Oistrakh, to whom Dmitri Shostakovich and Aram Khachaturian dedicated violin
concertos. Between the composers two instrumentations and Soviet copyright
issues, no definitive urtext of the work exists, lending a special role to the performer
in interpreting this warhorse for the flute.
The first movement, marked Moderato, unfolds rather conventionally in
form. A tonic theme, introduced by the interval of a perfect fourth and concluded
with a quick flourish, precedes a dominant theme that answers with variations on
the fourth within its own quirky dotted rhythm. Prokofiev, however, strays from strict
classicism by imposing abrupt key changes on these themes of the exposition, a
trait characteristic of his neoclassicist musical language. Exploring more rapid key
changes and a heightened dynamic and emotional range, the subsequent
developmentwhich juxtaposes the two themes in close proximitygrows in
intensity, ultimately exploding in a series of alternating runs between the flute and
piano. The first theme returns in its original, gentle form and is briefly met in the
tonic key by the second theme. Prokofievs compositional tendencies soon upend
this predictable tonal structure with eerie, unstable transpositions of the two
themes that float higher and higher in the flutes register until drifting into the
expected yet mysteriously unsettling key of D Major.
The second movement Scherzo defies the confines of its 3/4 time signature.
The flute introduces an anxious hemiola (a multi-measure cross rhythm), a motif
which comes to define the movement, against the relentless motor of the piano
accompaniment. The two instruments eventually emerge in melodic unison and
begin a lyrical middle section evocative of a relaxed, almost lazy folk song, only to
be repeatedly interrupted by sharp accents and fast trills. Following this short
interlude, the initial scherzo returns. The flute and the piano grow more and more
rhythmically displaced, rushing to the end in a fiery frenzy of notes.
The Andante third movement in F Major unfolds with an atmospheric
haziness, calling to mind Prokofievs popular fairy-tale music (notably Romeo and
Juliet, Cinderella, and Peter and the Wolf). The flute and piano pass off a simple
eighth-note melody that warps into a chromatic fantasy. Meandering triplet
sixteenths slowly grow stranger and more pronounced but eventually trail off. The
opening music restarts and cadences, and an ethereal coda extends this conclusion,
dissonantly winding down to the lowest register of the flute.
The fourth and final movement (Allegro con brio) shares a large amount of
its musical material with the opening movement: the emphasis on the interval of a
perfect fourth, similar sudden key changes, and contrasting tonic and dominant
themes. The march-like first theme, rhythmic in its virtuosity and clear in its
articulation, gives way to a slightly slower second theme that layers a swelling
melody in thirds with sweeping, arpeggiated flourishes. A dramatic piano solo
transitions the movement to a quieter, legato melody marked by expressive tenutos

and long phrases. Together, the flute and piano build a steady crescendo and
accelerate back into the introductory march. After a majestic rendering of the
second themenow in the home key of D Majorthe two instruments launch into a
pompous coda that concludes the work in a brilliant display of technique.

One of the benefits of studying and performing contemporary music is the


enhanced influence of the composer. Below are the Elliott Carters notes concerning
his work:
Scrivo in Vento, for flute alone, dedicated to the wonderful flautist and
friend, Robert Aitken, takes its title from a poem of Petrarch who lived in and around
Avignon from 1326 to 1353. It uses the flute to present contrasting musical ideas
and registers to suggest the paradoxical nature of the poem.
It was first performed on 20 July 1991 (coincidentally on Petrarchs 678th
birthday) at the Ville Rencontres de la Chartreuse of the Centre Acanthes devoted to
my music at the Festival of Avignon, France, by Robert Aitken.

Beato in sogno et di languir contento,


dabbracciar lombre et seguir laura
estiva,
nuoto per mar che non fondo o riva,
solco onde, e n rena fondo, et scrivo
in vento;

Blessed in sleep and satisfied to


languish, to embrace shadows, and to
pursue the summer breeze, I swim
through a sea that has no floor or
shore, I plow the waves and found my
house on sand and write on the wind;

e l sol vagheggio, s chelli gi


spento
col suo splendor la mia vert visiva,
et una cerva errante et fugitiva
caccio con un bue zoppo e nfermo et
lento.

and I gaze yearning at the sun so that


he has already put out with his
brightness my power of sight; and I
pursue a wandering, fleeing doe with a
lame, sick, slow ox.

Cieco et stanco ad ogni altro chal mio


danno
il qual d et notte palpitando cerco,
sol Amor et madonna, et Morte,
chiamo.
Cos venti anni, grave et lungo
affanno,
pur lagrime et sospiri et dolor merco:
in tale stella presi lsca et lamo.

Blind and weary to everything except


my harm, which I trembling seek day
and night, I call only Love and my
Lady and Death;
thus for twenty yearsheavy, long
laborI have gained only tears and
sighs and sorrow: under such a star I
took the bait and the hook!
Translation by Robert M.
Durling

Petrarch, Rime Sparse 212


The Three Early Art Songs of Claude Debussy date to his teenage years
when his developing compositional style was open to a wide range of artistic

influences. Intended as vocal pieces, these irresistible miniatures seem perfectly


fitted for the expressive qualities of the flute.
Nuit dEtoiles (Starry night) wallows in the intense emotions of high
Romanticism as inspired by the musings of poet Thodore de Banville. Using the
first stanza of text as a chorus, Debussy explores different reactions to unrequited
love, from nave anger to bleak acceptance. The second and fourth stanzas serve
as transitionary verses that erupt in passion while the corresponding music
blossoms in experimental tonalities.
tes regards bleus comme les
Nuit d'toiles, sous tes voiles,
cieux;
sous ta brise et tes parfums,
Cettes rose, c'est ton haleine,
Triste lyre qui soupire,
Et ces toiles sont tes yeux.
je rve aux amours dfunts.
Thodore de Banville
Starry night, beneath your veils,
Beneath your perfumed breezes,
In the depths of my heart,
With sadly sighing lyre,
Where sadness lies interred,
I dream of love that passes.
The soul of my beloved stirs
La sereine mlancolie
And in dreaming woods is heard.
vient clore au fond de mon
cur,
In the shade of a leafy bole
Et j'entends l'me de ma mie
When only a sigh I whisper,
Tressaillir dans le bois rveur.
You return, poor wakened soul,
Your shroud as pale as plaster.
Dans les ombres de la feuille,
Quand tout bas je soupire seul,
At our fountain, I see afresh
Tu reviens, pauvre me veille,
Your glance as blue as the skies;
Toute blanche dans ton linceuil.
This rose, it is your breath
And these stars, they are your eyes.
Je revois notre fontaine
Beau Soir (Beautiful evening) hints at the glassy impressionism
characteristic of Debussys later compositions. The imagery of the poem paints a
still scene with slight tremors, swelling briefly to an expressive climax before
returning to the melancholy stillness of the opening.
Cependant qu'on est jeune et que le
Lorsque au soleil couchant les rivires
soir est beau,
sont roses
Car nous nous en allons, comme s'en
Et qu'un tide frisson court sur les
va cette onde:
champs de bl,
Elle la mer, nous au tombeau.
Un conseil d'tre heureux semble
sortir des choses
Paul Borget
Et monter vers le coeur troubl.
Un conseil de goter le charme d'tre
au monde

When the rivers are rosy in the setting


sun,

And a warm shiver runs over the


wheat fields,
Advice to be happy seems to rise up
from things
And climb toward the troubled heart.

While one is young and the evening is


beautiful,
For we are going away, as this stream
goes away:
The stream to the sea, we to the
grave.

Advice to taste the charm of being in


the world
Mandonline (Mandolin) takes root in a French obsession with Spanish
culture. Opening and concluding with a bell -like figure from the piano, the piece
conveys charming flair and an unmistakable ease, fitting the lightness of its poetic
inspiration.
Les donneurs de srnades
Et les belles couteuses
Echangent des propos fades
Sous les ramures chanteuses.
Cest Tircis et cest Aminte,
Et cest lternel Clitandre,
The givers of serenades
And the lovely women who listen
Exchange insipid words
Under the singing branches.
There is Thyrsis and Amyntas
And theres the eternal Clytander,
Et cest Damis qui pour mainte
Cruelle fait maint vers tendre.
Leurs courtes vestes de soie,
Leurs longues robes queues,
Leur lgance, leur joie
Et leurs molles ombres bleues,

Tourbillonent dans lextase


Dune lune rose et grise,
Et la mandoline jase
Parmi les frissons de brise.
Paul Verlaine
And theres Damis who, for many a
Heartless woman, wrote many a
tender verse.
Their short silk coats,
Their long dresses with trains,
Their elegance, their joy
And their soft blue shadows,
Whirl around in the ecstasy
Of a pink and grey moon,
And the mandolin prattles
Among the shivers from the breeze.

Bernard Henrik Crusell is often referred to as the outstanding Finnish


composer before Sibelius. A contemporary of Beethoven, Crusell found success
both as a clarinetist and composer, and he is remembered today for his
contributions to the clarinet repertoire. His Flute Quartet in D Major, Op. 8,
transcribed from an earlier quartet for clarinet, is a seldom-played work among
modern flutists, despite its delightful charm and endearing lilt.
The Allegro non tanto first movement is the most conservative portion of
the quartet. Written in straightforward sonata-form, two themesone scalar, one
arpeggiatedplayfully move around rather limited key areas before ultimately
settling in D Major. Crusell assigns a highly virtuosic role to the flute in this
movement with nimble passage work that soars above accompanying strings.
The second movement, marked Un poco largo, distinguishes itself with a
large palette of dynamics and colors. Recurring dotted rhythms and notated
pauses convey intrigue with their upward energy. The roles of the four musicians
become more thickly intertwined as the gentle melody is passed between
instruments in varying combinations.
The third movement Menuetto: Allegretto is a bold presentation of
contrasts. Subito dynamics and sforzandi appear throughout the energetic minuet.
The milder trio section presents several simple melodies that grow more passionate
and intriguing with each repetition. Pizzicato notes from the cello and expressive
grace notes in the flute and violin lines evoke the music of Dvoka composer half
a century after Crusell. Of course, the minuet reasserts itself and bounces to lively
end.
The concluding fourth movement (Finale: Allegro) takes the form of a
spirited folk dance. The flute resumes a virtuoso role, and the strings also take on
flashy technical demands. Splashes of ornaments, ricochet bowing, and
exaggerated dynamics send this final movement to a dazzling conclusion.
Program notes by Peter Feher, May 2015