Recital taster notes

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I just sent a bit of a promo email around to all my friends and contacts inviting them to my recital this Sunday. For those who didn’t get that, here’s some little taster notes for the works on my program:

For this recital I am very fortunate to be joined by some truly wonderful associate artists: Stephanie Dixon (oboe), Dr Robert Davidson (double bass) and Alex Raineri (piano). Together we’ll be playing a series of works that explore the tension of two – two musical lines, two musical forces, the past and the present, the real and the imagined, the page of the score and the musician’s body, the voice and the instrument.

Dialodia // Bruno MADERNA // flute & oboe (1971)

This brief but brilliant duet captures a moment of dialogue between winds. Fleeting unisons (melodic, rhythmic) slip by as the instruments follow separate paths, sometimes harmonious, sometimes tense with a jagged dissonance. Eventually they come together for one bold statement, although what follows is far from conclusive…

Loops // Philippe HUREL // solo flute (2000)

A modern study in virtuosity, Loops makes mechanical demands of the human performer. As the title implies, a short phrase is repeated, each time with a few changes, until it has morphed into something unrecognisable. After a dizzying first movement, the second and third play havoc with their pitch material, warping intervals using quartertones, simulating damaged tape reels.

Sketches // Liam FLENADY // flute & piano (2012 – 2nd mvt world premiere!)

Alex and I played the first movement of this cheerful little piece in our ensemble’s (Kupka’s Piano) Solos, Duos, Trios concert in May this year – an exploration of the integration of two lines. This time we’ll be premiering the second movement, a haunting choral, based on intricate harmonic interplay within phrases and between instruments.

Les Folies d’Espagne // Marin MARAIS // solo flute (1701)
+ new variations by Hannah Reardon-Smith, Liam Flenady and Michael Mathieson-Sandars!

This is a beautiful and very well-known collection of 32 couplets, originally written for the viol (an early instrument related to the violin family). I’ll play a selection of the original set with a contemporary twist – some new variations by myself and my composer friends!

Demons // Brett DEAN // solo flute (2004)

Dean’s violent and obnoxious flute solo is characterised by a bitter internal struggle. Opening mid-battle, the demon gradually gains control over the subject (the flautist herself?) and sings in a dreamy Erlkönig-esque voice before breaking into devilish dances. The subject fights back and there are several more battle scenes before the (bitter) end. Dean’s relationship with past composers seeps into everything he does, and along with the Schubert I mentioned, I hear flashes of Stravinsky’s Petrouchka and Mahler scherzos in this wild work.

Bagatelles // György KURTÁG // flute, double bass & piano (1982)

If some of the repertoire I’m playing is a bit heavy-going, this Kurtág is a welcome respite (also for me!). Kurtág manages to perfectly capture energies and emotions in simple miniatures, and, like Dean, he is haunted by his predecessors – in this work the little friendly ghosts of Bach and Debussy make appearances. Apart from anything, flute, double bass and piano is a wonderful combination!

Voice // Toru TAKEMITSU // solo flute (1971)

The final work on this recital program was in fact the first work on my last. Takemitsu’s Voice is one of the earliest notated works for flute that feature vocalisation, and I’ve been focussing on the voice in flute music for my two-year masters degree. In this work the flautist is playing several roles at once, inspired by Japanese Noh theatre. But the eerie tension here is between the flautist on stage and the disembodied presence they address: “Who goes there? Speak, transparence, whoever you are!”

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