FCNY Flutist Highlight: Marina Piccinini
May 18th, 2020
Next up in FCNY's Flutist Highlight series, Marina Piccinini shares what's on her music stand, and how she and her students are staying connected throughout the pandemic.
I have an old love affair with this piece. I first heard it performed by Aurèle Nicolet during my first summer studying with him, and at the end of the concert, Andreas Haefliger turned to me and said, let’s play it too! In the Fall, back at Juilliard, we worked on it for months and performed it at the first Focus! Festival and recorded it as part of my Debut CD (along with Jolivet Chant de Linos and Prokofiev Sonata), After working on it with Boulez himself, and after so many years and experience with this iconic piece in concert halls around the world, we have often discussed making a second recording of it again. This summer, it was scheduled as part of my performance at the Aspen Festival, but with the cancelation of live events, festivals are alternately turning to streaming performances, and now the whole Video recording project is suddenly looming before us much earlier than anticipated!
Niccoló Paganini: 24 Caprices (arr. Piccinini)(Schott)
These amazing miniatures are a constant source of joy and intrigue to me because Paganini’s musical language combines a unique and profound expression and vulnerability with true virtuosic technical demands. To play them well I find I must go beyond all my preconceived limitations on the flute, so they are a constant source of growth and learning. During this quarantine, with my many students spread around the globe and often feeling isolated, we created a weekly Paganini caprice session as a way to stay connected and grow. We are making our way together through the book and are currently on number 8, so we will certainly stay connected for many weeks to come.
Elisenda Fabregas: Andante Appassionato (Alphonse Leduc)
This summer I will be the guest artist at James Walker’s Beyond the Masterclass session , which will also be online. In lieu of a live concert, I will be recording an all solo program, with this gorgeous and unabashedly romantic piece as part of that program. Elisenda Fabregas (elisendafabregas.com) is a wonderful Spanish composer now living and working in Seoul, Korea. I have known her for many years and she wrote Goyescas, a beautiful flute and guitar cycle based on the paintings of Goya for Emanuele Segre and me in 2008. Another of my favorite pieces of hers is the Flute and Piano Sonata from 1996.
As soon as the lockdown happened in beginning of March, I found myself playing Bach every morning, something that has not abated. Bach is for me the so-called Desert Island composer-I play his music in times of stress, of joy, of sorrow, and at all other times as well. I am going through all the solo works, from the Flute Partita as well as the Sonatas and Partitas for violin and the Suites for cello, working on transcribing and adapting them. I feel another CD may be in the works.
Kernis: Air (Hal Leonard, Schirmer, Associated Music Publishers)
I have been so fortunate to work with Aaron Jay Kernis in the last few years, on the Flute Concerto he wrote for me, as well as on the new version of Air for flute and orchestra, both of which we also recorded. This summer, the Seattle Festival commissioned him to write another piece for me, this one for solo flute, called Siren Song, which I will record here in Switzerland and will be streamed as part of the summer concerts. In anticipation of receiving the first drafts, I have been renewing my acquaintance with Air and we are trying to decide if a long distance performance collaboration will be possible either in the flute-piano version with Aaron himself, or in the version with String Quartet.
Renowned flutist Marina Piccinini is that rare, high-caliber artist who is devoted not only to her craft, but also to music education and the creation of programs featuring powerful traditional repertoire and inventive new works. She is an authentically modern voice and 21st century visionary, sought after internationally as soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist. Her rich artistic tapestry is woven from the multi-national, multi-lingual household where she grew up, bringing the vibrant spirit and global perspective to all of her cultural and personal endeavors. As a Shaolin Fighting Monk, she relishes an ideology that inspires self-discovery, discipline, finding joy, and having no limits.
Known for expanding the repertoire of her instrument, her catalogue is among the most extensive of today's celebrated artists, and she has premiered works by Aaron Jay Kernis, who recently wrote a flute concerto for her, John Harbison, Lukas Foss, Paquito D’Rivera, Marc-Andre Dalbavie, and Yuko Uebayashi, among others. Her appearances as soloist include the Boston, Vienna, Vancouver, Tokyo, Toronto and National Symphonies and London, Rotterdam, and Hong Kong Philharmonics, and she has worked some of the leading conductors of our time, including Seiji Ozawa, Kurt Masur, Pierre Boulez, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. She also appears regularly on major stages around the world with such artists and ensembles as the Tokyo, Brentano, and Takács Quartets, pianists Mitsuko Uchida and Andreas Haefliger, and Tre Voci, her flute, harp, and viola trio, and can be heard on the Avie, Claves, and ECM labels,
She is creator and founder of the Marina Piccinini International Masterclasses (MPIMC), in partnership with the New World Symphony. The first flutist to win the coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant, she was top prize winner of the CBC Young Performers Competition and Concert Artists Guild International Competition. She is currently on the faculty of the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University and lives with her family in Vienna and New York.