Also available: Thomas: Steeples in my Soul
Andrew McBirnie's The Moon by Night for alto flute and piano is wonderfully atmospheric and colourful. The entire range of the instrument is used including a fourth octave D flat and there are some contemporary techniques such as key slaps and flutter tonguing. Complex rhythms, extreme dynamics and subtle tempo changes together with free piano writing make this a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience. Steeples in My Soul by the American composer David Bennett Thomas for solo alto is less technically demanding, and has a more easily definable rhythm structure but is equally effective. The alto flute repertoire is greatly enriched by these two compositions.
The moon by night thee shall not smite,
nor yet the sun by day. -Psalm 121 (Scottish Psalter)
I have always been struck by the monumental dignity, solemnity and simplicity of the Scottish Psalter tunes, and this particular one has been a repeated source of inspiration for me over a period of some 15-20 years. I have always found it to be extraordinarily beautiful, with its measured, graduated rise and fall, and the flattened 7th which appears, tellingly and shockingly, in the bass towards the end of the first line.
Difficulty level, roughly compared to ABRSM exam grades. 0 is beginner, 9 is advanced (beyond grade 8).