Reflections on Art and Life
I am happy to announce the completion of my latest composition for flute – the long-awaited Flute Concerto. If you are a faithful reader of my blog, you might remember my references to writing a flute sonata. I originally thought I would write a respectable sonata for flute and piano, but as the composition was taking shape, it became clear to me that it wanted to become a concerto.
So what does it mean practically? Well, it simply means that the current flute-piano version will become flute-orchestra version in the near future (maybe as early as this fall).
The concerto consists of three movements:
(Samples from a live performance by Shelley Binder, flute and Judith Bible, piano, March 29, 2009.)
I like to use descriptive titles for my compositions because I always write from the visual and emotional viewpoint (film scoring anyone?). Even when I follow a traditional form, such as a fugue, sonata, or concerto, I concentrate on the visual environment I imagine, and the emotional impact it creates.
I do not see music as a merely intellectual exercise of mastering the form or texture. In technical terms, this is an issue of Absolute vs. Program music, passionately debated in the late 19th century (Brahms vs. Wagner and Liszt) – both having its advantages, I suppose.
The Espionage concerto has been partially inspired by a poem I wrote earlier this year and, in the wider sense, by my fascination with the spy thriller genre. I loved the Jason Bourne films with Matt Damon and Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise. Whenever there is a chase across Europe involving trains, old Volvos, period hotels with tall ceilings, crowded subway stations, and miniature coffee shops, I am completely sold.
The concept of espionage, to me, from the romanticized and artistic standpoint, has little to do with the actual spying or betrayal. It’s all abut a state of mind; escapism, hiding the true self under a disguise, adapting to quickly-changing circumstances, improvisation, alienation, uncertainty, overcoming fear. In a word, a wealth of emotional material for personal contemplation and art making.
The first two movements of the concerto, “Anywhere But Here” and “One Regret”, feature quickly shifting harmonies, lots of internal tension and emotional brooding. The third movement entitled “Three Moves Ahead” is a fast-paced chase with a healthy dose of flute virtuosity involving fast staccato passages, quick runs, and flutter tongue articulation.
Once again, as in several of my previous compositions, I return to jazz and pop allusions which are scattered across various harmonic progressions and rhythmic patterns. When it comes to jazz, I must confess that I know very little about it, so I followed the instinct of my ear rather than any book-approved patterns.