My Top 5 Pieces: Kristen Wuest
In another installment of our "Meet Our Resident Flutists" series, Kristen Wuest shares her Top 5 Favorite Pieces!
I first heard the Prokofiev Sonata for flute at a masterclass when I was a freshman in high school. It immediately struck something in me, and it’s been my favorite piece ever since. I wrote a thesis on it titled ”The Prokofiev Sonata for Flute and Piano, Op. 94: Comparing and Contrasting Classical and Modernist Styles“. The 4th movement is my favorite: both magnificent and somewhat eerie, with a sparkly 4th octave D at the end. Even after immersing myself in this piece for years at a time, it is still the piece I pull out when I want to have some fun, 28 years into playing the flute.
My best friend is a clarinetist and playing duets together has always been our favorite activity. Clarinet and flute provide a really nice blend of timbres with lots of beautiful harmonics present. We have explored a lot of duets together, but I think our favorite is the Muczynski “Duos for Flute and Clarinet”. This collection really encompasses Muczynski’s style of mixed meter and some really fun rhythmic passages. The second movement is my favorite, alternating between 2/8, 5/8, and 6/8, making for a very exciting and challenging adventure with a friend!
Chant de Linos is the hardest piece I have ever learned. This piece was written as a commission for the Conservatoire de Paris Competition, which was won by Jean-Pierre Rampal. Usually when I learn a piece, I look at it as a whole and narrow my focus from there on small parts or sections that might be difficult or in need of very focussed work. With Chant de Linos, I had to learn the piece almost measure by measure, and then go back and make it cohesive. While a huge challenge, it provided me with a sense of achievement and accomplishment when I was able to perform it. This piece takes you all the way back to Greek gods and goddesses, including motives reminiscent of Greecian chants and laments, centered around modal scales.
Some of my most fond memories of learning flute come from Danse de la Chèvre. I learned it for the first time in high school, and my teacher at the time helped me develop a beautiful story in my head of what was happening throughout the music. I drew an entire scene of goats in pastures on my score, and I still have it to this day, 20 years later. It is so important to have a storyline prepared in order to present this beautiful pastorale solo piece for flute. The character of the goat is so fun to experiment with and present to an audience. From peaceful sleepy sections, to rambunctious and playful moments, this piece puts the story in the hand of the performer.
For flutists, Mozart Concerti are very standard. We all are extremely very familiar with G and D, but what about Concerto in C Major for Flute and Harp? I feel like this concerto is never considered when talking about the Mozart concerti for flute. Concerto in C has always been my favorite; It is so sweet and beautiful, and the flute and harp work together as soloists, passing themes and motives back and forth. I performed this concerto with a harpist, who also happens to be a dear friend of mine. We had so much fun working together and preparing our cadenzas. If you need a sweet moment, pull this concerto out and play with a friend that is a harpist, or play along with a recording, you will not be disappointed!