Petite Suite for Solo Flute (1973)
- Highly recommended
Pan - Journal of the British Flute Society
This is a seven-minute solo flute piece in three movements, with obbligato bass flute and gong in the final movement. The additional part can be played by one player on both instruments, or alternatively a separate player can play the gong part.
The piece was written as a tribute to Aurèle Nicolet, who died in 2016, and was first performed by Emmanuel Pahud, with Mario Caroli on bass flute/gong.
The first movement is an Allemande and begins with music that immediately captures the essence of Nicolet, with detailed vibrato instructions on short phrases surrounded by silence. This is a poetic and captivating opening which creates a memorable atmosphere. The melodic material develops in a way which connects with the French flute school and the repertoire we all know so well; Widmann skilfully creates music which draws on tradition and expression but retains an original voice. Like the vibrato instructions, the dynamic markings are precise and detailed, and the full range of the flute is used. The first movement is just one page long, but it packs in a lot, including an increasing level of intensity which builds to the last bar.
The second movement is a Lament, with plenty of emotional outpouring and dramatic moments. The style is more contemporary here, with flutter tonguing and trills used to produce a range of textures and a lot of use of the high register; grief is intensively portrayed. The final Sarabande is soft, and once again builds in intensity through twisting melodic lines. The bass flute plays gentle crotchet pulses, while the flute engages in an almost Jolivet-like mantra.
This is powerful music, which has moments of calm and extremes of intensity and emotion. It is a fitting tribute to Nicolet which deserves to be widely known.
From the Publisher
Jörg Widmann composed the three-movement work in 2016 in memory of the Swiss flautist Aurèle Nicolet. The world premiere took place as part of a concert in Freiburg which was dedicated to Nicolet who had died shortly before; the interpreter was Emmanuel Pahud, one of his pupils. The versatility of the work shows, for example, in its obbligato instrumentation of bass flute and bossed gong – both instruments require only one additional player.
Performance duration (approx): 7'00
Difficulty level, roughly compared to ABRSM exam grades. 0 is beginner, 9 is advanced (beyond grade 8).
- Sarabande (with obbligato bass flute and gong)