Category Archives: Flute Music

Idyll – The English Flute Unheard by James Dutton

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE REPERTOIRE

When my pianist Oliver Davies and I started researching suitable repertoire to include on our album “Idyll”, we had no idea how much of interest we would find across a huge range of styles and eras. The only proviso was that the composers had a connection with the Royal College of Music, either as a student/professor or both. As we were both alumna (Oliver was also a professor for over forty years as well as founder and head of the Department of Portraits and Performance History) it was an obvious choice. Our producer Mike Purton also urged us if possible to find works that had never been recorded before for commercial release. This we achieved almost totally – one movement of the Robin Milford Sonata had been recorded with strings in a different arrangement, some of the Armstrong Gibbs Suite had been recorded by Richard Adeney many years before, and finally perhaps most excitingly, the only existing recording of the Sonata by Stanley Bate was a version only available on subscription and with the purchase of the sheet music in Paris – by Marcel Moyse accompanied by his son Louis. Rarefied company to say the least! Sadly this is one of the works that although still in copyright is no longer in print – more research is needed to see if it could be reissued at some point.

It turned out that only three of the nine works we ended up choosing to record were still in print. Oliver’s in-depth knowledge of repertoire of all kinds across the 20th century and access to the library at the RCM as well as his own collections meant we were unearthing some wonderful pieces which had lapsed into almost complete obscurity. It was a fantastic project to breathe life back into works that very few flautists had ever played, certainly in the recent past. Now the CD has been released, it has been very pleasing that reviews have also highlighted the quality of the repertoire that we have discovered. These are works that have been unjustly neglected and are more than worthy of performance.

Here then I’ll introduce you to those works which are available from the publisher’s archives, printed on demand – though almost entirely unknown.

Robin Milford: Sonata in C major

The Sonata in C major by Robin Milford is published by Thames. Written in 1944 it is a charming work, full of invention and character that could have only come from an English composer of that period. Milford studied with Vaughan Williams, and his illustrious teacher said of him – “If I wanted to show the intelligent foreigner something that could only have come out of England, I would show him some of the work of Milford”. Perhaps a slightly un-PC turn of phrase for the 21st century, but the sentiment is nonetheless very strong!

Robin Milford was a fascinating, though ultimately tragic figure in the music industry. He was the son of Humphrey Milford, founder of the Oxford University Press. He became very well-known as a composer of songs, many of which are still popular. His musical style is very definitely “English pastoral” – he refused to be swayed by European modernism, and ultimately this became his downfall, as his writing was seen to be more and more anachronistic for the period. He suffered from depression for most of his life – and the untimely death of his young son Barnaby at the age of just five must have been almost too much to bear. Eventually he took his own life in 1959, after having received the cruellest of requests from the OUP – he was required to collect all the unsold copies of his manuscripts from their warehouse.

Not the happiest of personal lives then, but his music radiates sunshine, albeit tinged with melancholy at moments. The Sonata in C is in three movements, the first full of sparkling motifs, a gloriously melodic and singing second movement (this also exists as a standalone work called Interlude,  arranged for flute and strings).

The final movement might give the illusion of being like a jig, but it actually demands a much more measured approach to fully appreciate the details of the harmonies and invention. In Milford’s obituary one critic noted “his emotional range was limited”, though one rather more percipient observer wrote “his music is fresh – and it will come fresh to those of a future age”. I hope that age is now!

Cecil Armstrong Gibbs: Suite in A major

Probably the most well-known of the composers that we chose was C. Armstrong Gibbs. The “C” stands for Cecil, though he hated the name and variously switched between just using his two surnames or adding the initial. He enjoyed the patronage of Adrian Boult who encouraged him to attend the Royal College of Music where he studied with Vaughan Williams, later joining him as a fellow composition professor. Like Milford he wrote a huge number of songs, as well as some very popular instrumental works. The most famous is probably “Dusk”, for piano or small orchestra, and proved extremely well-loved. It was even requested to be played at the future Queen Elizabeth the Second’s 18th birthday party at Buckingham Palace.

Again like Milford, Armstrong Gibbs did not embrace the sweep of modernism and new composition styles emerging from Europe. His Suite in A  (published Oxford University Press) dating from 1956 seems wildly out of touch with other works from that era, but it has a craft and approachability all its own. Written in five movements – Prelude, Minuet, Sarabande,  Gavotte and Quick Dance it blends the baroque feeling of the Suite form with popular music, and even a hint of the Last Night of the Proms in the final movement!

It is not a technically demanding work, but even so there are many details and nuances within all the movements that demand serious thought. Appoggiaturas abound, ready to trap the unwary! The Sarabande is a truly gorgeous little movement – just a couple of minutes but full of stately beauty and sombre reflection – a lot of emotional content for something that seems superficially straightforward. This work was a lot of fun to put together, and at around 13 minutes it’s a nice solid recital piece that deserves to be heard more often!

Cyril Bradley Rootham: Suite in Three Movements

The Suite in Three Movements by Cyril Bradley Rootham was written in 1921 – one of the two works dedicated to Louis Fleury on the CD. I believe this is truly a masterpiece in miniature and without doubt one of my favourite works on the recording. Rootham was a highly regarded teacher – among his pupils were Arthur Bliss and Armstrong Gibbs (though he was for organ, not composition)

Published by Chester it is not a long work at only nine minutes, but it is possessed of some truly wonderful writing for the flute and piano. The style is rather modal, shot through with hints of Holst and Vaughan Williams. Again the overall appearance may be of simplicity, but to capture the true essence one has to delve deeper. The opening Passacaglia is particularly haunting, and to bring out the varying textures of each iteration of the theme demands much concentration in  balance between the instruments in their different registers. I was really taken by the last section in which Rootham splits the theme between flute and piano – it has the feeling of wisps of smoke blowing on the wind, and to seamlessly blend the line together takes real thought and refined duo playing. The Saraband is fantastically expressive with swooping lines from the flute and great interplay between the instruments. The Jig which follows is surprisingly complex – when one just looks at the flute part alone, it’s hard to see what the fuss is all about – but this illustrates exactly how important it is to analyse what’s going on underneath as well – the piano part has a minefield of details: changing harmony, different voicing of chords, subtle changes of direction that give the whole a really satisfying feeling in just about a 90-second movement! I really loved working on this piece.

Richard Henry Walthew: Idyll

The title track “Idyll” was written by Richard Henry Walthew in 1907, and dedicated to the pre-eminent English flautist of the day Eli Hudson. It was first performed by Albert Fransella on September 5th of that year at the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts.

There was a real personal connection with this work for me – Walthew’s great-grandson David is the former principal clarinet of the Band of the Scots Guards, where I have been principal flute for over twenty years, though soon to be retiring! Oliver has been a friend of the Walthew family for many years, and his knowledge of the work’s existence led us to finding it in the British Library. The original publishers, Stainer & Bell, was co-founded by Richard Walthew. The work is still in copyright though out of print, but dialogue is underway to potentially bring the work back to a wider audience. It was recently chosen to be broadcast on Classic FM alongside one of the movements from the Armstrong Gibbs Suite – I was very proud that it was included in their playlist, and hope that this will persuade the publishers that it will be worth bringing back to life in score form as well as on the recording. I would love other flautists to get to know all these pieces and consider programming them in their own recitals.

Now available!

The basis for this article was originally published in Pan Magazine (Journal of the British Flute Society) in March 2018, and permission for this version has been kindly given by Carla Rees, editor of the magazine.

 

James Dutton

jamesduttonflute.com

 

 

 

“Heavenly – an enchanting album….a great British flautist” – Classic FM June 2018

“Beautifully played…these are two instinctive musicians with sensitivity and intelligence” – Pan Magazine March 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flute Tutor Books – Recommendations 2018

September 2018 is almost upon us and we all hope that there are many would-be flute students out there who are really excited to start learning the flute!  With that in mind I have edited my Tutor Book Recommendations blog from last year to help you get started. There has been very little activity in this area of the catalogue in the last year and so these three books are still the most interesting around today. All three have been extremely popular and have all made the initial stages of learning just that little bit easier.

The market for flute tutor books is crowded and often bewildering. There is almost too much choice, with different approaches, starting notes, rates of progress, type of repertoire and even the basic quality of the publication all jostling for our attention. Here I’ve picked out three lovely books which are aimed at the younger end of the market, and all are written by flute players. They may just help!

Flute Perfect by Doris da Costa and Anastasia Arnold

Buy now at Just Flutes

Flute Perfect - CoverThis really good tutor book has proved to be very popular over the last year. It is written by two experts who are passionate about the whole flute teaching process and it really shows.  At its heart is a clear desire to encourage and nurture young players, keeping the development of a good musician to the fore throughout. They are astute enough to price it well too, so it’s excellent value for money.

Advantages

This book has several major advantages. Firstly the layout is relatively simple and uncluttered with no gimmicks. The black and white illustrations are usually pertinent, and if they are decorative they add to the page rather than detract from it. There are no photos to illustrate posture – that is left to the discretion of the teacher.

Secondly, progress is steady. Each chapter introduces a single note and each tune or exercise has a clear purpose. Some pieces use practice bars to help with the learning, and encouraging downward scales at such an early stage is extremely useful. Playing from memory, experimenting with articulation with evaluation of the results, improvisation and  basic writing skills will all stretch the imagination of a young player and make the learning process much more varied. The anticipated grade at the end of the book is Grade 1.

Flute Perfect - Sample

Thirdly, and most importantly, rhythm,  making a good sound and aural awareness are given a very high priority throughout, ensuring that the core aim of musical development never gets lost.  This makes total sense but is quite often missing in the dash for learning ever more notes faster.

Supporting Teacher’s Book

Flute Perfect Teacher's Book- CoverA further plus is that this book is designed for both individual and group tuition. This is supported by the excellent Flute Perfect Teacher’s Book which is  a great resource for all of us but is especially useful for new teachers and those for whom the flute is not their main instrument. It’s multi-tasking with comprehensive teaching notes, ensemble parts and piano accompaniments all included. There are tips and suggestions to help with each  chapter including group activities such as warm-ups and improvisation. These are clearly outlined and can give a welcome structure to a lesson as well as providing material that can be used elsewhere. As the main focus here is on learning through ensemble playing  it’s really helpful that the arrangements are flexible and that all the parts can all be photocopied. Piano accompaniments are included too and can also be purchased separately.

At the very least you will find these books a useful addition to your teaching bag and they may end up as the only tutors in it!

Get Set! Flute by Hattie Jolly and Ali Steynor

Buy now at Just Flutes

Get Set! Flute - CoverThis is the most modest of the three books but the only one to include a backing tracks CD with printable piano accompaniments. It’s marketed as suitable preparation for the Prep Test and pre-Grade 1 so it’s great to see a curved head flute included in the opening photos. There are some lovely illustrations throughout and the book is quite colourful generally.  Picture signs signal Listen up! games, Rhythm Time activities and Find, Say and Play games which are designed to help accomplish various tricky tasks such as the difference between B natural and B flat, or memorising a simple piece.

Starts Simply

The first things the beginner meets in this book are pulse and breathing, before it moves on to some quite extensive work for headjoint only. There is nothing ground-breaking here but everything is explained clearly with an emphasis on rhythm skills, listening skills and tonguing. Basic theory is covered also using the headjoint, so that blowing and reading are already in place before the topics of putting the flute together, holding and cleaning the flute, and posture and balance are introduced. There are more clear instructions here and even parents will be able to see whether or not these elements are being put into practice!

Colour-Coded

Get Set Flute! Sample PageNotes are introduced using diagrams, with different colours used for each hand – blue for the left and red for the right.  The material used is almost all original and extremely well written, and each skill or musical point covered is logically laid out.  There are plenty of written activities too and these will deliver theory by the back door. Inevitably the pages appear busier as the music becomes more complex but as the range reached at the end is only one octave from low to middle D this is not too much of a problem.

Supporting Book

Supplementary repertoire is available in Get Set! Flute Pieces Book 1 which has a printed piano accompaniment and another backing track CD. Although not directly linked to the tutor, running both together will provide a really thorough work-out!

Overall these are lovely books for enthusiastic little ones and it won’t break the bank!

Fluting Stars Book 1 and Fluting Stars Book 2 by Ana Kavcic and Blaž Pucihar

Buy Book 1 at Just Flutes | Buy Book 2 at Just Flutes

Fluting Stars CoverThis is the top end of the market price wise, so what do you get for your money? A first rate composer in Blaz Puciher for a start and most of the material is original. You are also paying for very high quality books that are beautifully produced in full colour. The illustrations are sumptuous and any young player will surely love looking at them! The scope in terms of notes covered is wider although progress is made via musical complexity in Book 2,  the third octave being left for another day. Piano accompaniments to all the tunes are available as a download.

Clear and Attractive Diagrams

This book is also aimed at the younger pupil so curved head flutes take their place alongside the straight head ones. The drawings and photos are really clear, making assembling and blowing very easy to follow. Breathing and embouchure set-up are covered in detail and here the colourful illustrations really help lift this information off the page. The extensive headjoint section in this book includes the use of the Pnuemo Pro blowing device which is interesting if you haven’t seen it in action before – again there are some lovely photos. Tone quality is right at the heart of the first section of Book 1. A radical departure from the norm is the introduction of singing and playing, single, double and triple tonging, and vibrato before the use of the whole flute. Now that really is interesting! Another unique feature is the initial lack of notation. The first note learned is middle register D followed by low and middle G, A and B. This is done together with a box for naming objects starting with those letters. It is only then that ‘How do we write music?’ is broached.

Kep Leaps

The rest of the books are laid out in Key Leap sections:

Key Leap score sample Each of these introduces new notes, and contains a variety of other items such as theory, finger fitness exercises, dance forms and chamber music. These sections are also supplemented by:

  • The Fluting Star Magazine for more music theory
  • Treasure Chest of Sparkly Tones for tone development
  • Ear Detective for aural awareness,
  • Notes in a Minute and Finger Fitness for technique
  • Cherry on Top which sets a new challeng
  • Stellar Student which uses puzzles to master the theory

This is really quite comprehensive! The format of the second book is the same except that there are more notes and fewer illustrations.

These are impressive books written by committed educationalists who have a great deal of experience of the flute and a wealth of knowledge of teaching. It’s an investment purchase  but they really are quite beautiful!

All these excellent books will make any young student really happy. That also means happy teachers, not to mention parents. Have fun deciding which one to go for – all three perhaps?

Browse all Flute Tutor Books at Just Flutes

NFA 2018 Newly Published Flute Music Competition Winners

The results of the 2018 National Flute Association Newly Published Music Competition are in! Here’s the run-down of the winning titles by category.

Flute and Piano

Winner

Georg Philipp Telemann – Sonata for Flute and Basso Continuo, TWV 41:h4 (Wiener Urtext Edition)

Telemann Sonata for Flute and Continuo, Wiener Urtext Edition

Telemann Sonata for Flute and Continuo, Wiener Urtext Edition

Telemann’s Sonata (Solo) for transverse flute and basso continuo comes from his ‘Tafelmusik’ published in 1733, one of the most important instrumental cycles of the late Baroque period. The prominent themes of the Sonata seem to have impressed G. Fr. Handel so much that he took them up in his Organ Concerto No. 15 in D minor. Buy Now

Finalists

Honorable Mentions

Flute and Piano Arrangements

Winner

Traditional American, arranged by Marietta Simpson & Evelyn Simpson-Curenton – Three Sprituals for Flute and Piano (Theodore Presser)

Three Spirituals - Theodore Presser

Three Spirituals – Theodore Presser

The original publication from July, 2015 of the spiritual Calvary (114-41726) as arranged by the Simpsons proved that their grasp of the material translated wonderfully into a highly musical, highly enjoyable, and somewhat challenging performance piece for an accomplished duo. We are pleased to add Calvary to their arrangements of Git on Board and Li’l David to present Three Spirituals for flute and piano. For advanced performers. Buy Now

Finalists

Honorable Mentions

Flute Quartets

Winner

Roger Derongé: Fanfaflut (Digital Music Print)

Roger Derongé - Fanfaflut (Digital Music Print)

Roger Derongé – Fanfaflut (Digital Music Print)

Fanfaflut is a flute quartet by Belgian composer, Roger Derongé, featuring a variety of styles, from baroque to modern, utilizing a variety of extended techniques, including singing while playing and beatboxing. Part 1 (Flute & Piccolo), Part 2 (Flute & Alto Flute), Part 3 (Alto Flute), Part 4 (Bass Flute & Flute) Buy Now

Finalists

Honorable Mentions

Mixed Ensembles

Winners

Ned McGowan: Garden of Iniquitous Creatures (Donemus)

P. Brent Register: Bedtime Stories (Jeanne Music Publications)

Finalists

Gerado Dirie: Overwintering (Cayambis Music Press)

Stephen Lias: Forever Alive, Forever Forward (Alias Press) 

http://Buy now

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, arranged M Ackroyd: Valse (Wonderful Winds)

Honourable Mention

Spillville Variations on a Theme by Dvorak: 16 commissioned Iowa composers (Alry)

Wind Quintets

Winner

Eric Ewazen: Reverie (Theodore Presser)

Eric Ewazen: Reverie (Theodore Presser)

Eric Ewazen: Reverie (Theodore Presser)

Reverie celebrates the wonderfully lyrical voices of the “traditional” wind quintet – blending together as five singers, yet remaining distinct as individual voices. The work opens and closes as the voices float individual melodic lines amid the sparkling colors of the higher instruments and the rich resonance of the lower instruments, while the middle section is intense and bold. Commissioned by the Monmouth Winds, this quintet is a true reverie – sweet, pastoral, and dream-like. Buy Now

Finalist

Two Flutes and Piano

Winners

Robert Russel Bennett, edited by Janet and Paul Somers: Six Souvenirs (Maurice River Press)

Six Souvenirs for Two Flutes and One Piano were written in 1948 for, and premiered by John Wummer (1899-1977) and his wife Mildred Hunt Wummer with Bennett at the piano in the Chamber Music Hall, City Center, New York. In it he honors his flute-playing friends, who just happen to be some of the most distinguished flutists of the twentieth century. Buy Now

Scott Joplin arranged by David Gilliland: Four Joplin Rags (Theodore Presser Comp

Scott Joplin’s ragtime gems are American classics, equally suitable for the recital stage or less formal occasions. David Gilliland’s transcriptions for two flutes and piano may be presented either as a suite or individually. Gilliland has crafted the collection so flute duos may share the joy of performing Joplin together, while the pianist provides the big “stride” accompaniments. Buy Now

Finalist

Honourable Mention

Solo Flute

Winner

Timothy Hagen: Pop for Solo Flute (Owl Glass Music)

Nuno Peixoto de Pinho: #5 Letters to Wolfgang (Scherzo Editions)

Finalist

Honourable Mention

Low Flutes

Winners

Greg Lutz: The Continuing Adventures of  Dexter the Danger Donkey (Alry Publications)

A vibrant conga, playable by a quartet of low flutes with many optional parts available to join the party! The title says it all!Buy Now

Sergei Rachmaninoff/Gabriel Faure/Maurice Ravel, arranged by Christine Potter: Three Vocalises (Falls House Press)

Buy Now

Flute Duets and Trios

Winners

Sadiel Cuentas: Five Duets (Cayambis Music Press)

Ricardo Matosinhos: Trio Op.65 for Flute, Alto Flute and Bass Flute (Scherzo Editions)

Finalists

Honourable Mentions

Solo Flute and Orchestra

Winners

Sarah Bassingthwaighte: House of Doors (Alry Publications)

From the composer: “The title, House of Doors, comes from a meditation exercise in which you imagine walking through a hallway full of doors, choosing one, and exploring what’s inside. The exercise is designed to increase creativity and the ability to make positive changes. To me, this meditation is fun, like being in a dream where I can make some choices. The starting point for the Concerto came from three different “rooms” I encountered, and each is translated into sound. The piece is divided into two continuous movements.” Buy Now

Eugene Magalif: Concerto for Flute (Alry Publications)

The Concerto for Flute by Eugene Magalif was completed in 2015. In February 2016, it was recorded for the CD album “Colibri” by soloist Patrick Dillery, flute (USA) and Dnipro Symphony Orchestra (Ukraine), and a few days later, in March, the World Premiere took place in Dnipro Philharmonic Hall. It consists of three movements: Allegretto – Andante – Allegro, and the form is close to similar works of the 18th century. The first and third movements are written in the rondo-variation form, while the second movement is a three-part fugue with a freely-floating flute obbligato, each combining styles of 18th-19th century classical music with modern popular music. Buy Now

Honourable Mention

Solo Flute and Flute Choir

Winners

Ricky Lombardo: Tango Time (LMP)

This is an original composition featuring a “C” flute soloist with flute choir accompaniment. There is an opportunity for improvising if desired. Should the soloist prefer to read the solo, there is one written. In addition to being expandable for the flutes, optional sting bass and percussion parts are included. Light in nature, the beautiful melodies will captivate your audience and musicians. Buy Now

Jules Mouquet arranged by Matt Johnston: Pan et les Bergers (Alry Publications)

This arrangement features a colorful, yet light accompaniment to this delightful flute solo. A great piece to feature your first chair player or a visiting soloist. Buy Now

Finalists

Honourable Mentions

Trios with Other Instruments

Winner

Blaz Pucihar: Full Moon Trio for flute, cello and piano (Pucihar Music)

Buy Now

Finalists

Honourable Mentions

Duets with Other Instruments

Winners

Tom Febiano: Alma for alto flute or flute and guitar or piano (Forton Music)

Alma, a suite for alto flute (or flute) and guitar, was written in January of 2010. A pensive and tonal work infused with Iberian textures, its five movements are: Alma, Soneto 1, Lisbon, Soneto 2 and Alma. Performance time is about 19 minutes, and an additional piano part is included to substitute for the guitar accompaniment. The piano part can be used with either alto flute or flute. Buy Now

Antonio Grevasoni: Il Giardino della Costa (Cayambis Music Press)

Finalists

Honourable Mentions

Flute Ensemble

Winners

Adrienne Albert: Across the C’s (Falls House Press)

Across the C’s is an original work by the celebrated American composer Adrienne Albert. This 7-minute work was commissioned by the Norwegian quintet “5 pa Tvers/5 Across” who traveled across the seas to premiere the work at the 2015 NFA convention. In addition to the beautiful flowing feel of an ocean crossing, the music begins and ends with a special sonority of winds blowing on the open sea. Across the C’s may be performed by professional as well as advanced student ensembles. Buy Now

Nicole Chamberlain: Chivy (Spotted Rocket)

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines chivy as a method to tease or annoy with persistent petty attacks. Buy Now

Peter Senchuk: North Star Overture (Forest Glade)

North Star Overture portrays the feeling of looking into the night sky on a cold crisp evening to find the North Star. The piece opens with a sparse opening that builds in intensity, just like the stars coming out as night descends. The flutes give us the sound of the night breeze with wind sounds on the held notes. As it progresses the music increases in tempo and becomes an energetic piece with joyful flourishes for all the flutes. Buy Now

Finalist

Honourable Mentions

Exploring the new ABRSM 2018 Flute Syllabus: Grade 8

Grade 8: The Penultimate Grade

With the introduction of the ARSM diploma, grade 8 isn’t quite the pinnacle it once was, and the repertoire used here looks as if it has been set with half an eye on this new exam   Old favourites remain and old favourites return, and I will leave you to ponder the riches of the core flute repertoire at leisure. However, here are some great new pieces that might come in handy over the next 3 years.

List A:

A.E. Muller: 3rd movement from Concerto in E minor Op. 19

This is wonderful alternative to Mozart! The whole concerto is a joy and this lovely movement takes the form of a sprightly theme and seven variations. The style is as elegant as Mozart but the technical demands less so, especially as the tricky 4th variation should be omitted. Starting in E minor, the speed increases through each variation until the slow fifth emerges in E major. The composer then returns the music to E minor for the difficult sixth variation before rounding off the whole work with an elegant 6/8. Thinking about ARSM, this is great preparation for the Chopin Variations on a Theme of Rossini which is so popular at diploma level.

John Ranish: 1st and 2nd movements from Sonata in B minor

You could consider this a less challenging  option. A lovely Adagio opens the work and has already been sensitively edited to avoid complex rhythms or fussy ornamentation. The Allegro has a small note range so there are no really big leaps to negotiate. It’s also lovely!

Now for 2 pieces at the top end of the range:

Galli:Divertimento Una Follia a Roma di F. Ricci from 19th Century Italian Music for Flute and Piano

A  great introduction to the fantasy format that is so prevalent in our repertoire, this is a virtuoso piece that will easily make the transition to ARSM. Every part of flute technique is needed here, together with an advanced level of musicality which will help carry the form. You also have to be supremely confident!

Rossini: Andante and Polonaise from Romantic Miniatures Book 2

This is another show-off piece, although easier to learn than the Galli and much shorter. The opening dramatic theme should be paced imaginatively but establishing the Polonaise dance rhythms should be more straightforward. It would be great to be able to triple tongue too but even at a slightly statelier speed this is a very good choice for a good player.

List B:

Albeniz arranged Hedges: Sevilla

In a list full of notes, this has less than some. Knowing this familiar tune will help  with the both the rhythms and the six changes of key. I did say less notes – not no notes! Mixtures of 5s, and 7s, and other fast runs are logical though, and scale based. This is a fun piece that many will find attractive, especially as it looks easier on the page than it actually is to play!

Paul Lewis: Serenade Populaire

This capricious and well-written piece is also a little less daunting than some of the core repertoire. Easy on the eye and with a simple rhythmic structure, much of the interest is added by the piano harmonies. The expressive introduction gives scope for those with a great sound to shine before a tricky little Allegretto has to be negotiated before the opening returns. The Allegro spirituoso is has a catchy rhythm and uses scale passages to create the excitement. Trick fingerings for the end will allow your virtuosity to bring the house down!

Edward Gregson: Fertility Dance from Aztec Dances.

This is at the other end of the musical spectrum and another great ARSM option. It will really appeal to those confident enough to tackle the challenges posed by the frequent changes of time, lip bends and flutter tonguing which define the style although these new techniques are not needed for the grade 8 exam.  A nifty set of fingers will also help, even if there are pieces with more notes available on the syllabus for those who need them! Fertility Dance is a wonderfully exciting movement and a brilliant choice for the right student!

List C:

Christopher Ball: Pan Overheard from Invocations of Pan

This is dedicated to Adam Walker – no pressure then!  It’s best played by someone with great imagination and flair. Not terrifyingly difficult (although it looks it) but flexibility in tonal colour and  dynamic together with  good intonation throughout will be the way to a successful performance. The score is peppered with arrows indicating the rubato required which is really helpful! Another good ARSM choice.

These next 2 pieces are for the rhythmic only!

Rob Buckland: Changing Times from Changing Times for Solo Flute

This is ideal for someone with a great sense of rhythm – the funky style is brilliant! It’s based on a pentatonic scale with repetitive note patterns which become progressively more difficult. However the challenge is all in the complex rhythms. Buckland says that if you count in quavers you should be fine. I’m not so sure! This is definitely another ARSM possibility.

[youtubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnQ-RSP38KU]

Hilary Taggart: Kerry from Pictures

I have long been a fan of Hilary’s pieces, nearly all of which clearly state the technical purpose for which they were written. The direction here is Idiom and this is about coupling a wistful Irish melody with an Irish jig.
A free Lento section appears 3 times, each time sounding like a different improvisation. The Allegro focuses on alternating metre 3+2, giving the jig a lop-sided feel. Like the Buckland, this needs a player with a keenly developed rhythmic pulse. The style is completely different though, so again there’s plenty of choice.

And finally:

Furstenau: Valse de Schubert “Beethoven’s Sehnsucht’s-Waltzer from Articulation for Flute by Robert Winn.

The inclusion of this book on the list is fantastic but this should be the culmination of practice from it, rather than the starting point.  It’s great to use as most of the work is done through studies and arrangements of all sort of tunes, keeping the actual exercises to a minimum. This workout by Furstenau is from the section ‘Advanced Articulation’ which tests mixed articulation linked to technical virtuosity – this is difficult and a test of stamina! The theme and variation form will help to focus practice though, which is just as well as this has everything – lyrical playing, articulation patterns, a short cadenza and a virtuoso finale! You’ll certainly be ready to take ARSM if you can play this!

There is so much variety in this list both in terms of style and difficulty. Exploring these riches will be a joy – hooray!

 

 

Exploring the new ABRSM flute syllabus 2018: Grade 7

Whisper it quietly but this might be time to invest in whole pieces or compilation books, rather than buy the ABRSM book itself!

List A:

This is another strong list with a more diverse range of periods than often.

The Rabboni Sonata in D major is particularly tuneful and highly recommended, especially for those less likely to be at home in the Baroque period.

For those who are, the Telemann Sonata in G major is a strong choice. Gluck’s Che faro senza Euridice arranged by Boehm is an absolutely wonderful piece published in the ABRSM book but it’s also available in Romantic Miniatures Volume 2 which you could then use for grade 8!

 

Less familiar are:

Frederick the Great: Allegro from Sonata in B flat Spitta No 76.

If you splashed out on the complete volume of these sonatas for grade 5 this one is a great option here. It’s also available separately and is well worth the money as the whole sonata is delightful.

The movement set is a lovely and sprightly fast movement which could be  tricky for the fingers. If you can sort out the tonguing to suit yourself you will be rewarded with a happy piece that will bring joy to everyone!

Serini: Andantino grazioso and Allegro assai from Sonata No 1 in D major

The beautiful slow movement which is quite Romantic in character is followed by a very lively Allegro assai. This is fiddly rather than difficult with the editorial trills making the writing very intricate.  It’s a challenge, as it should be at this level, but refreshingly different.

 

 

List B:

Again, the supporting pieces are strong. You may not need to look any further than the Poulenc, Faure, Berkeley or Tea for Two but there are other really interesting options available to explore too!

Edward German: Intermezzo

This is a lovely Intermezzo with a rather rambling rhapsodic format that is charming .It will need work to cement the ensemble as a result, especially as there are several changes of speed. Definitely worth a look though, especially if you liked the Saltarello from the last syllabus.

Moszkowski: Spanish Dance from 300 Years of Flute Music.

This will be valuable if you are looking for slightly less daunting. The Spanish style is one that everyone knows and there is plenty of character in the writing to help with interpretation. Blessed with a straightforward structure, this is definitely not as technically demanding as some of the other pieces. You may also have this book already so it makes sense to play something completely different from it!

Paul Wachs: La Flute de Pan from Romantic Miniatures Volume 1

This is another great French flute piece that has a lot in common with the  Mel Bonis that is published in the ABRSM book. It’s a little more straightforward in harmonic style though. It has a charming rhythmic simplicity, and if you have a student with a supple tone, good breathing and decent intonation, this is perfect!

List C:

There are some most interesting studies set for this grade which includes both core repertoire and the opportunity to leave your comfort zone! You might have already introduced your student to the Telemann Fantasias, or the  CPE Bach Unaccompanied Sonata so you’re instantly ahead of the game! However, be sure not to miss the expressive Prill Study in D minor from More Graded Studies Book 2 which is a tone colour challenge, and there is  the Toreador’s Song from The Bizet Notebook if you need something very well-known.  As ever though, there is always room for something different!

Alicia Hart: Scats from Scatadoodle

This book features at grades 4 and 5 (good value again!) and introduces the concept of the scat-singing technique used by jazz players. It’s a great choice if your accompanied pieces are more traditional. This piece has a natural swing rhythm which should be quite easy to learn as the patterns are quite repetitive. It’s technically fairly demanding with some big leaps around the flute but it’s is very well written with plenty of places to breathe. Playing this from memory would be relatively easy for any player used to doing this and would be very impressive in the exam!

There is just so much quality in the music set for this grade that you could quite easily never repeat the same set of pieces – even over 3 years!

 

 

Exploring the new ABRSM flute syllabus 2018: Grade 6

The choice of repertoire in all three lists is very wide and there is quite a variation in standard. Programme planning is a must now  and there is so much to choose from  – an embarrassment of riches!

List A:

All the greats are represented on this list so you may feel that Bach, Handel and Telemann are all you need to complement the repertoire from the ABRSM grade 6 book. This would mean you miss out on these gems though!

Drouet: Allegro Moderato from Sonata in A minor from Three Little Sonatas for Flute and Piano

This is the first movement of the Sonata which has been used at grades 4 and 5 so you can complete the set. Not the most difficult piece on the list but utterly lovely!

 

Giuseppe Rabboni: Sonata No 8 in C major from Sonatas for Flute and Piano

If you didn’t include the Sonata in A minor for grade 5 then perhaps now is your chance to explore these wonderful sonatas. This rather expensive book comes with a beautiful performance and play-along CD – great for de-stressing in a traffic jam!

This slow, one movement piece is completely charming, and once you have stopped worrying about how black it looks on the page, relatively straightforward technically.  You do need a great sound though, and immaculate intonation would be an added bonus! You’ll love it!

Vivaldi:  Allegro from Concerto in D major RV783

This energetic movement will provide a serious technical workout. You  need to play all those notes through the tutti passages too so stamina will be an issue. It’s easy style-wise though so if you can play it, it plays itself!

 List B:

The two block-buster pieces on this list  are the Gaubert Madrigal and Andy Scott’s And Everything is Still. Start with these and you can’t go wrong! However, there are 2 new pieces by English composers that might be of interest at some point. Both have the same wistful character:

John Frith: Arabesque

This slow, lilting waltz is really appealing. It has good structure which underpins the elusive harmonies and a lovely short cadenza passage. Played with conviction it will sound gorgeous!

 Paul Lewis: Lullaby for Laura from Pictures of Childhood

The same applies to this piece too, but here the style is a little more accessible. The 6/8 rhythms hold the melody together and despite a little technical section in the middle, this is the easier of the two to play successfully.

List C:

The general listing is full of books you might already have. Highlights from them are:

Entr’acte from A Bizet Notebook arranged Simon Hunt 

This is the Entra’cte to Act 4 so it’s full of energy and colour and you get to play both the famous oboe melody as well as the semiquaver flute passages. It works really well as a solo piece and is a great way to get to know yet another of those wonderful Bizet pieces!

Cavallini: Theme and Variation from More Graded Studies for Flute Book 2

More Romantic writing here with a beautiful theme for showing off breathing and tonal flexibility followed by a triplet variation. Quite a workout!

 

Oliver Ledbury: Imaginings from Flute Salad.

If you think you know this book but haven’t looked at the last page please think again.

To play this interesting study you really will need imagination, as it is possible that it’s the first time your student will have encountered this kind of writing. Although not technically difficult, it needs really good pacing and flexibility of both sound and rhythm to capture the meaning of the title. It’s a wonderful piece though and great one to make a good contrast in your programme.

Have fun with all these  – everyone will be happy with whatever you choose!

Exploring the new ABRSM 2018 Flute Syllabus: Grade 5

Blog snapshot – my recommendations at a glance!

A question for you  – what makes a good grade 5 flute player?

It’s notoriously difficult to excel at this grade so it is perhaps an interesting exercise to think about which of the following your potential candidate might possess before matching them up with repertoire. :

  • The basics – a more developed sound with increased finger speed, and snappier tonguing
  • More stylistic awareness which results in the choice of a balanced programme
  • Confidence in their playing and the ability to take ownership of the performance

The ABRSM book for this grade is very strong and will challenge all these questions most  successfully. But even so there is plenty of variety and quality to be found elsewhere. There will come a time when  the examiners will be very happy to hear some new music!

List A              

This  is a classic list including the usual mix of Handel, Telemann and Beethoven, plus an arrangement of the Dvorak Humoresque. The  Allegro from the Sonata in G major by  Pietro Locatelli from 300 Years of Flute Music will also be very popular and used a great deal.

This compilation is also included at grades 4, 6, 7 and  8 – another great value purchase!

Drouet: Rondeau from Sonata in A minor (Three Little Sonatas)

If you didn’t include the Cantabile from this Sonata for grade 4, here is another chance to explore Drouet’s charming style. Easy on the eye, ears and technique, this is a good way to learn about structure as the movement uses repeats and da capos in a more intricate way than usual. You’ll love it!

Frederick the Great: Allegro assai from Sonata in A minor, Spitta No. 21

The music of the flute enthusiast Frederick the Great has been overshadowed by that of his teacher Quantz and is not often played. This Allegro, together with another one set for grade 7 are both really interesting.

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Mainly set in the middle register, the articulation is tricky but the small range of notes used helps to limit the technical demands. It’s rhythmically engaging and lovely to play. You can purchase this Sonata separately but if you have fallen head over heels for Frederick’s charms, this and the equally appealing Sonata No 76 set for grade 7 are available in one volume!

Giuseppe Rabboni: Sonata No 10 in D minor from Sonatas for Flute and Piano 

If these sonatas have passed you by, you are in for a real treat! Although the book appears expensive it is set for grades 6 and 7 too, and includes a demonstration and playalong CD. This is beautiful and worth the purchase price alone!

The great thing about all these Sonatas is that they are all so tuneful. You do need your wits about you for this one though. A great sound and musicality will help but poise and a sense of style are essential to bring this fabulous slow movement to life!

List B

There are more stunning tunes on this list which contains some little-known pieces which are soon to become famous!

Bock and Harnick: Sunrise, Sunset from Roll Over Bach arranged by Adam Gorb

One of the great songs from Fiddler on the Roof and the arrangement is lovely.There is a real duo feel here with the evocative sweeping melody passing between flute and piano in the opening section. The famous chorus doesn’t appear until bar 34, and even then it’s still split between the instruments. This is more akin to a fantasy than a straightforward transcription,  which if played beautifully, could be most effective.

Richard Lane: Caprice

This is a very appealing if rather quirky piece. The rhythms are relatively simple and the whole piece lies nicely in the middle of the flute so the principal task here is to learn the notes in the passage work and accomplish the main tonguing patterns.The partnership with the piano will deliver the interesting harmonic style and, best of all, it’s only a minute long!

 

Wilhelm Popp:  Spanish Dance from Romantic Miniatures Vol 1

This is yet another fantastic piece! It’s one of those gems that sounds more difficult than it actually is, so it’s  great fun to play! The straightforward rhythmic structure and technical challenges are simply presented to get you off to a flying start. It’s then possible to play it at the correct Bolero speed which is so evocative of Spain. All you need then is a pair of castanets!

List C:

There isn’t really a dud on this list – you can’t go wrong!

Bizet: Gypsies Dance from A Bizet Notebook arranged Simon Hunt

It’s such a treat to be able to play these good solo flute arrangements of Carmen for an exam. A treasure of a book, it’s very good value especially as it is set for grades 3, 6 and 7 as well. This famous dance is quite short so the detailed finger patterns will be the focus of attention here. Everyone knows this tune though and that always makes practising easier!

 

Helen Madden: Icing on the Cake  from 20 Fantastic Studies

I love this book of well-written original studies by Helen Madden, all of which have great titles. Each one has practice tips too. This one is technically demanding and the composer herself recommends slow practice. A clear incentive perhaps?  You also need really good control of dynamics to fully bring out the character which should be ‘stylistic and bold’. If you like real jazz you’ll love this.

 

Investing in music at this level is still difficult to encourage, but with this amount of choice the task of persuading parents to part with their money should be much more straightforward!

Find this exam music and more using the Just Flutes Exam Music Finder

Exploring the 2018 ABRSM Flute Syllabus: Grades 3 and 4

Wonderful music abounds at these two grades and the emphasis is on original music which is great for players at this level. There are also lovely tunes to enjoy, as well as a good helping of pieces in the jazz idiom.

Blog snapshot – my recommendations at a glance

Grade 3

Grade 4

Grade 3

List A

This list is crammed full of music by the greats. Bach and Mozart plus Handel, Grieg, Offenbach and Vivaldi– what more could you ask for! There is also scope for something a little different though:

Eisel: Paisanne from Classical Music for Children

This unusual gavotte-style dance in D minor has easy rhythms and a small note range so the emphasis can therefore be on playing the notes quickly. There are also no printed dynamics or articulation so you can be your own editor for the first time! Also set is the Andante by the same composer. This excellent book is a modern version of Flute Fancies – a mix of lovely pieces through the ages up to Satie. The book appears on the Grade 2 syllabus as well, making it financial as well as musical sense.

Shield: Old Towler arranged Emerson from An English Garland

This is a catchy number in 6/8 which will need to be played at a fast pace to be really successful. It’s completely different in mood to He Piped So Sweet (which is set for Grade 2), so the book is worth the outlay for the right student.

List B

You’re spoilt for choice here and there are three blockbuster tunes that everyone can sing along with!

  1. Gershwin: I Got Plenty of Nothin’ from Easy Gershwin
  2. You Only Live Twice from Hartbeat
  3. Hedwig’s Theme and Mr Longbottom Flies (Harry Potter) from Play HollywoodThis is a ‘must-have’ book with a ‘who’s who’ choice of 10 film themes. The playalong CD means hours of fun – exam or not!

But again if you’d like to be a little more adventurous:

Keith Bartlett: Happy Go Lucky from Just for Fun

The ‘No worries’ performance direction sums up this gem with its easy 6/8 tune in sunny C major – perfect!

Wedgwood: Scale-Learning Blues from Up-Grade Flute Book 2

This is another good value book with a variety of pieces that will really keep your student interested. Scale-Learning Blues is very good for teaching G minor with the swing making it all rather acceptable. There is also a D flat – there’s no time like now for learning that!

List C

Jazz-based studies are plentiful and these three are well worth a look. The books are set on other grades and very good in their own right – definitely worth the money!

  1. Of Mice and Keys or Search Engine from Jazz@Etudes
  2. Catch Up from 20 Fantastic Flute Studies. This book also contains pieces from the Grade 4 syllabus.
  3.  Yesterday’s Song or Waltzer from Flute Salad

My personal favourite, however, is something altogether different:

James Rae: Distant Shores from 42 More Modern Studies

This has such a beautiful melody!  A good sound and decent breath control will enable your student to make the most of the expressive intervals and meandering sequences that evoke the title so skilfully. A winner!

Grade 4: The Singing Grade

You can sing your way through a large part of this syllabus with anything from Bach to the Mexican Hat Dance!

List A

Drouet: Cantabile from Sonata in A minor from Three Little Sonatas

There is this a really appealing alternative piece should you need a change. It’s a great example of Classical elegance needing good breath control to sustain the melody and make the most of the phrasing. The other two movements of this Sonata are set for Grades 5 and 6 and the other two sonatas in the book are lovely too. This is a wise investment!

Another good compilation book to consider:

First Repertoire Pieces arranged by Peter Wastall

This is an old-fashioned type of book and if you consider yourself a traditional teacher you’ll love it! The two set pieces are the famous Vivace by JB Loeillet and an equally well-known piece by Wilhelm Popp – but you probably know them already!

Mendelssohn: The Shepherd’s Song

This is a wonderful and valuable piece of Romantic music which is at the top end of difficulty for the grade. Once mastered, however, it can be used for concerts, festivals, encores – in fact everything!

What makes it challenging? Rhythm, key, breath control, leaps, dynamics, and intonation – it even ends on a pianissimo top G. It is so worth it though, and if your student is good enough to play it they will forever love you for suggesting it!

List B

Michael Regan: Harmattan from Desert Winds

This has a lovely gentle jazz style which is held together by a rhythmic unity. You need good finger and lip control for this and as it’s quite a substantial piece stamina will be an issue for some. It has an approachable piano part too – hooray!

Arranged Ledbury:  A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square from Big Chillers

This is a great book to have if your student likes playing to their grandparents – it’s full of classic tunes like this! This one is irresistible and has been very well voiced for this level of flute player. The key is D major but there is an A major section in the middle. It’s relatively low though so it doesn’t have meltdown potential! There is also an element of performance skill required as the piece ends with the piano – hold that flute up until the end!

List C

These two options are sure to please:

Mark Nightingale Hard Drive or Scart Stomp from Jazz@Etudes

This is a great little book which is fun and contemporary with computer-speak titles. Both of these have a small note range to help concentrate the emphasis on the rhythm. Students will love them!

 

Phillip Sparke: Party Piece from Skilful Studies

This is a traditional skills piece in a modern guise but when played well it takes us straight to a knees-up! Simple rhythms and an easy key range are balanced out by higher notes and a mix of tonguing patterns which will should convey all the ebullience of the title. If you are prepared to put in the practice this will be such fun to play!

Taking these two grades should be fun and with this amount of variety in the listings everyone should be happy!

Find this exam music and more using the Just Flutes Exam Music Finder

Enticing Classical Period Repertoire

Classical flute music is dominated by Mozart but there are other lovely pieces to be found amongst his contemporaries and those coming just after him. Not all are household names but as the music is all delightful, it doesn’t really matter!

Jadin

A good place to start is with Louis Emmanuel Jadin (1786-1853).Jadin Sonate in D major He is best known for his operas so you are always guaranteed tuneful writing. Perhaps one of the nicest of his works for flute is the Sonata in D major Op 10 No 1, Characterised by simple harmonies and skillful use of both instruments, it presents quite a challenge. A vibrant Allegro  is followed by a lovely G minor Andante, whilst the closing 6/8 Rondo brings the work to a happy conclusion. Everyone will enjoy this one!

Graeff

If you’d like to get completely off the beaten track then maybe you should consider the Sonata in G major Op 5 No 1 by Johann Georg Graeff (1762 – 1829). This is part of a the series ‘Virtually Unknown Music’ from Roz Trubcher, and proves that there is plenty of good music to be found in unlikely places! Graeff was a ‘professor of Flute’ who settled in England in 1802. This charming Sonata, again in three movements,  is short and relatively simple, so it’s ideal for introducing a younger player to the classical style.

Graeff Sonata in G major

Beethoven

Back on familiar territory, It’s good to be able to include a piece by  Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) here, even if the Sonata in B flat major is a really early work that can’t be entirely authenticated. Unusually for this period it has four movements, which is great as he didn’t write any other sonatas for us. The publisher’s note describes the work best:

‘There are a number of stylistic grounds which suggest this is an early work by Beethoven: for example, the surprising  turn to D major at the beginning of the development, or the lengthy development  itself. The Polonaise with it’s trio glows with a Mozartian lightness and grace, the slow movement announces ‘Master of the Adagio’ and the merry variation finale would feel perfectly at home in a serenade by Beethoven.’

The note range is small in this piece and there is plenty of interest in the piano part so it’s ideal for performance by two good students. It’s also a perfect introduction to the world of one of the greats.

Danzi

Beethoven’s contemporaries perhaps rated the flute more than he did and as they were not really quite as innovative, their music is more Mozartian in style.  Franz Danzi (1763 – 1826) is probably best known for his wind quintets but his Sonatina for flute and piano in D major is a gem. The three movements are charming .  A short, slow D minor introduction leads into an airy 6/8 Allegretto which breezes along cheerfully. The central Larghetto is in a lyrical F major and the work ends with a lively Pollacca back in the home key. The whole piece is quite delightful and would  make a very happy start to any recital programme.

Danzi Sonatina in D major

Kuhlau

Kuhlau Sonata in F majorAnother happy recital opener is the Sonata in F major by Friedrich Kuhlau (1786 – 1832). This is music for flute players by a flute player so the melodic line dominates, leaving  the piano with a more supportive role. The outer fast movements are bright and breezy and the middle Andante flows along expressively in B flat major. Some of the writing here would benefit from judicious transposition up an octave to increase it’s lightness still further, but it’s original moderate range is ideally suited to less experienced performers. Either way it’s lovely!

Hummel

Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778 – 1837) is worth playing just for his name alone! He wrote three flute sonatas, the best of which is perhaps the Flute Sonata in D major Op 50. This is a longer and more substantial work, with an increased range of notes for the flute and change in the role for the piano to equal partner. Although still in the three movement fast, slow, fast form, the first movement is marked Allegro con brio and you will need strong articulation as well as a good technique to convey it’s power. Unusually, the Andante is in the tonic minor, beautifully unsettled and dark, and it leads straight into the closing Rondo Pastorale. Sunny in outlook but anything but straightforward to play, the writing is peppered with more complex rhythms and sudden accents in both parts, and the virtuosity of the writing means that the pair of you will bring the house down at the end!

Hummel Sonata in D major

Schubert

There is always the occasion when we need to play the music of the really famous but, even so, there is still scope for something a little different to entice us away from their more famous pieces. Franz Schubert (1797 – 1828) is noted more for his songs than his flute music and to be able play a Schubert melody is one of music’s great privileges.  Six Lieder, fabulous arrangements by Theobald Boehm of some of his most beautiful songs, are a real treat. Ranging from the expressive beauty of Gute Nacht to the lightness of Das Fischermadchen, these songs allow the flute to follow the contours of the voice really well. If you would like to discover more about musical shaping please start here! Worth the cover price for Standchen alone, this is music for a lifetime.

Mozart… Finally!

And finally, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1792) really did love the flute! The six delightful Sonatas KV10 – KV15 were written when he was just 6 years old and are just a joy to play. They are full of all the wonderful things we so love about Mozart. Simply written, they have interesting rhythms, imaginative harmonies and most importantly, beautiful melodies. It’s true that they are not without technical issues and some do have movements that perhaps don’t work quite so well. However, you will enjoy playing them all and if ever you need a really sparkling start to a recital look no further than KV 14 in C major – it’s a stunner!

Browse all Classical music for flute and piano at Just Flutes.

Alternatives to Mozart: Classical Flute Concertos

There are plenty of alternatives to the Mozart flute concertos, and the Classical period has a wonderful variety of composers who wrote very well for the instrument. The manageable string parts mean that some are ideal to perform with a school orchestra, whilst others are very challenging indeed!

Glück

The earlier Classical period is rich in flute concertos, most of which are technically less demanding that those of Mozart. Christoph Willibald Glück’s Flute Concerto in G major is an old favourite, and one of the best. The writing has a simple texture but there is still plenty for a flute player to enjoy. You will need to be agile, as the Allegro non molto leaps around, and have a sustained sound to carry the long phrases in the Adagio. The final Allegro comodo is delightfully uncomplicated. The piano reduction works very well here so it also works well as a recital piece.

Gluck g major concerto

 

Equally delightful but much less familiar is the Flute Concerto in D major by Rossler-Rosetti, or another in the same key by Anton Fils. These are both very tuneful and provide just the right level of technical stretch to interest a budding soloist.

Haydn

hay020
We are lucky enough to have a flute concerto by Joseph Haydn which is brilliant – even if it has now also been attributed to Leopold Hoffman! Another work in D major, it starts with a lovely Allegro moderato which will challenge your low note projection as well as your articulation. The beautiful Adagio has the flute melody floating above the orchestra and the closing Allegro molto alternates semiquavers and triplets to great affect. This is a wonderful concerto – whoever wrote it!

Schwindel

More robust is the D major Flute Concerto by Friedrich Schwindel which has a greater note range and more complex flute writing. A bold opening Allegro gives way to a soft A major Adagio melody which lies in the upper part of the register. An ebullient Rondo brings the work to a happy conclusion. This is fun to play and will engage both the audience and the players:

Schwindle score sample

CPE Bach

CPE Bach G major concerto

Although CPE Bach isn’t strictly speaking a Classical period composer, he wrote perhaps the most difficult concertos of the 18th century. Try the Flute Concerto in G major if you like your music powerful, demanding and compelling. The first movement Allegro di molto is a workout, with long phrases demanding excellent breath control, tonguing and finger dexterity. The atmospheric slow movement is more Baroque in outlook with a gentle lyricism, but the closing Presto is perhaps even more challenging than the first movement. Extended passages of large leaps, all articulated, will test even the best players. The D minor Flute Concerto is also high-powered with mighty outer movements and a slow Andante of wonderful tenderness. These are standout virtuoso concertos that will bring the house down.

Francois Devienne

970709-image-1A more familiar figure is Francois Devienne who wrote a number of concertos for us. Flute Concerto No 2 in D major is one that will challenge your finger technique considerably. Devienne approached composition purely from the standpoint of player, so the accompaniment is merely a support for the soloist. This consists of the customary mix of scales, arpeggios and sequences that are characteristic of his writing. The overall effect is pleasing though, and the change of key to D minor for the Adagio adds extra interest. This concerto is full of notes, and will test your flute playing skills considerably.

Late Classical Flute Concertos

Composers of the late Classical period were writing for a more advanced instrument, so their concertos are more technically difficult. If you want something completely off the beaten track that doubles as a workout, the August Eberhard Müller Flute Concerto in E minor might be just the piece for you:

The writing is darker and more dramatic throughout with a first movement that changes frequently from minor to major. The second movement Adagio uses the full compass of the flute to weave its melodic line, and Müller uses an unusual theme and variations structure as a finale. This sparkles despite the predominant minor key, and you will need very good articulation to fully convey the character. It’s a good piece, one worth exploring.

All of these fine works will please both you and your audience. Don’t forget the cadenzas though – some editions include them, but it’s actually much for fun to write your own!

Buy flute concertos – and other Classical flute repertoire – at Just Flutes.