Concertino for Flute and Piano
- Highly recommended
- Award-winning product
Pan - Journal of the British Flute Society
Premiered last summer at the National Flute Association convention in Orlando, Florida by Jasmine Choi, this must have been the jewel of the event! From the outset, this gem of a piece sparkles with colour, space and movement. It is wonderfully accessible to professional and more advanced flute players who fancy adding a new American work to their programmes. Daniel Dorff writes very sympathetically for the flute, creating lines and passages that give flight to the chord progressions throughout the work. It simply sails in sunlight, barely acknowledging any darkness. That's not to say that this work is without progression. Its mounting tensions arrive through the building of complex rhythms and textures, starting from wide pastoral spaces to the clamour and pulse of city streets.
There is a lot of dialogue in the work between the piano (orchestra) and flute: some is in tandem and other phrases mirror each other...and many exclamations from the flute are solely presented as the thoughts of the player, their soliloquy moments in a one-act play. Dorff's musical story feels like speech here: a presentation of thoughts that wouldn't need words, but he's offered sentences just the same.
'Languid' is the musical direction at the beginning of the piece. The chords offer space to breathe and the flute player introduces themselves through arpeggios that reflect the wandering nature of this introduction. The scene then continues in more pastoral surroundings, giving way to pastures of birds and big skies. A short reflective cadenza introduces a gathering of activity, and the pace quickens slightly into a dance, with the flute line spinning gracefully over the pulse of the piano. Technically the real challenge here for the player is to keep the lightness and sparkle through the range of the instrument. The player needs to have command of the quality of the tone throughout the cascades of arpeggios and staccato passages, while still sounding like they are engaged in an exciting conversation with someone. Although no melody is immediately apparent, there are repeated passages linking the sections together that possibly put the listener at ease with something sounding familiar.
As the player arrives in the middle of the piece, the mood becomes very grand, and while the piano is more subdued in the pulse, the flute gathers momentum to effortslessly over the top. The dynamics here are subtle for the soloist, but can be definitely heard because the writing in the piano (orchestra) is in support rather than as a duo partner as such. Interest is still there, but in a more general and guiding role to the soloist.
There is minimal darkness in this work. A very slight nod to a grey cloud comes just before the final flurry of playful agility and activity begins...an unexpected cloud at that. While playing through I had to readjust my wont for the established chords and sound world, but it was absolutely the right progression, and interesting to hear here. The piece finishes with great aplomb and a sense of accomplishment. It's such a wonderful piece to play as a soloist, and really offers a platform to show sound, dialogue, colour and personality. this is a true work for the concert flute player...fun, fast, sometimes frivolous, and fabulous!
From the Publisher
Composed for Jasmine Choi’s premiere on the 2018 National Flute Association concerto gala, Dorff’s Concertino is a 10-minute showpiece full of flash and theatricality, elegantly balanced with beauty and lyricism. The work is fully suitable for flute and piano recitals, while the orchestral version is easy to program, even when rehearsal time is limited. For advanced flutists.
Winner in the Flute and Piano Original Works category in the Newly Published Music Competition at the 2019 NFA
Performance duration (approx): 11'00
Difficulty level, roughly compared to ABRSM exam grades. 0 is beginner, 9 is advanced (beyond grade 8).