Rhonda Berry composes new Low Flutes Trios/Duets
Australian composer Rhonda Berry has composed several new short chamber music works for various combinations of low flutes. The works are based on leaves and their playful and whimsical nature is abounding. Continuing from a flute duet completed in 1995, Ms. Berry has added three is new works in the compilation titled, 'Leaves' (2012). Composed at the request of Peter Sheridan, 'Leaves,' includes the beautiful colours and unique tones of the low flutes.
I. 'Dancing Leaves,' is the first piece in the set and is originally composed for two C Flutes, although the work also sounds fine on two altos or two bass flutes. This was the movement that inspired me to ask Rhonda to compose more for the flutes. Its simple syncopated melody plays with our ears, as it cannot decide where it is tonally set. Fluctuating between the pitch B and A#, a lovely gentle tension is set up in this opening phrase that explores resoultion possibilities. The music grows more dramatic as the register changes and the compositional leaning towards E minor is never fully realized as both gravitae towards the leading tone of D#. The opening statement is brought back and the finale chord (minor 3rd, spelled f and g#) is destined to continue its musical journey.
II. 'Leaves at Play' The next setting is a trio for C Flute, Alto and Bass flute. A 6/8 meter provides a steady pace of fluctuating 16th (semiquavers) notes to provide a rhythmic ostinato. The Alto enters with octave quavers leaping upwards tow measures later and then the bass flute a quirky static rhythmic idea. The combination of these three rhythmic elements nows provides an opportunity for a longer melodic thought which appears in the flute in dotted crotchets (or quarter notes). An interplay of these three different ideas is exchanged and eventually moves into a slower 4/4 section which exchanges syncopated polyphonic motifs for thirteen measures, eventually returning to the opeing semi-quaver motif in the flute. The clever ending takes the opening rhythm of the bass line and turns it into a canonic melodic spark for a very short moment.
III. Leaf Muse (Alto and Contrabass Flute) is an Andante that begins with the lower voice of the contrabass flute intoning a chant-like phrase. The alto enters with a fanfare rhythm. The tempo becomes quickened and the two instruments exchange material. The open Contrabass flute line is then worked into a small stretto and the end result is an effective altered return to the A section, with the alto climbing to Gb6 and the contra finding a more flowing lyrical accompaniment. The gentle clash of the closing minor second is a fresh release.
IV. Leaves in Three (Flute, Bass and Contrabass flute) is a swift and canonic type of waltz that develops into a slower moving B section. The A section returns with alterations of key and tessitura, as the bass flute begins to find its voice in the texture. After a short cadenza type passage each, the trio comes to a swift close with a flurry of quintuplets from the bottom up.
I look forward to recording this works in mid- 2013. I would like to personally thank Ms. Rhonda Berry for her fine contribution to our growing and developing repertoire for the Low Flutes.