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Alex Taylor: Flute Concerto...Embedded video
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Sample: Pages 1-2, 31-34 and 43-44 of scoreSee details ➔
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For me the defining characteristics of the flute are its fluidity, and its limpidity; both still and in motion it is like clear water, pellucid. Although there is no programme to the concerto, a useful metaphor might be the properties and behaviour of a liquid: curving at the surface, rarely truly still, by turns viscous or free-flowing, sometimes threatening to evaporate.
The first movement emerges from tense, chromatic surroundings. Much of the material is drawn from two superimposed harmonic fields: the overtone series, and its inverse, the ‘undertone’ series. Throughout the work there is a tension between microtonal materials and a more conventional pitch language; the flute’s mellifluous, versatile character allows it to slide easily between harmonic realms, and at times straddle them.
Where the first is sporadic, dream-like, multifarious, the brief second movement is fixed insistently around an oscillating two-note ostinato. Over a relentless pulse, the metre shifts almost constantly, a platform for the flute’s impressive agility and brilliance, punctuated by splashes of colour from percussion, harp and piano.
The third movement relaxes in tempo, drawn in again to the flute’s lyrical, ominous character. The ending is drawn-out but inexorable, gradually shedding its allegiance to chromaticism in favour of an open modality, reminiscent of plainchant, an invocation to musical spirits.
The concerto is scored for solo flute, wind quintet, harp, piano, percussion and strings.
commissioned by Abigail Sperling with funding from Creative New Zealand
for Abigail Sperling
I. Fantasia. Dark, glinting
II. Gigue. Fast and angular
III. Sarabande. Gently circling