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Flute Concerto (Flute and Piano)

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Flute Concerto (Flute and Piano) by Christopher Rouse (b.1949), Published by Boosey and Hawkes, Includes flute part and piano score. Written in 1993.

The Flute Concerto by Irish Composer Christopher Rouse (b. 1949) is marching toward it’s acceptance as a preeminent work in the solo flute repertoire. Written in 1993, this work has as clear-an-arch form as is possible  - the first and fifth movements reflect each other, as do the second and fourth, with the third movement serving as an elegiac palate cleanser. The clarity of the Concerto and its relative length (about 30 minutes) make for a substantial concerto, easy to follow for the audience and fun to play from a performer’s perspective.

In the composer’s own words, 

“I have attempted to reflect my responses to these stimuli in my flute concerto, a five-movement work cast in a somewhat loose arch form. The first and last movements bear the title "Amhrán" (Gaelic for "song") and are simple melodic elaborations for the solo flute over the accompaniment of orchestral strings. They were intended in a general way to evoke the traditions of Celtic, especially Irish, folk music but to couch the musical utterance in what I hoped would seem a more spiritual, even metaphysical, manner… The second and fourth movements are both fast in tempo. The second is a rather sprightly march which shares some of its material with the fourth, a scherzo which refers more and more as it progresses to that most Irish of dances, the jig. However, by the time the jig is stated in its most obvious form, the tempo has increased to the point that the music seems almost frantic and breathless in nature. 

In a world of daily horrors too numerous and enormous to comprehend en masse, it seems that only isolated, individual tragedies serve to sensitize us to the potential harm man can do to his fellow. For me, one such instance was the abduction and brutal murder of the two-year old English lad James Bulger at the hands of a pair of ten-year old boys. I followed this case closely during the time I was composing my concerto and was unable to shake the horror of these events from my mind. The central movement of this work is an elegy dedicated to James Bulger's memory, a small token of remembrance for a life senselessly and cruelly snuffed out.”

Its form is as arch-like as is possible  - first and final movements reflect each other, as do the second and fourth, with the third movement serving as an elegiac palate cleanser. This makes for a substantial concerto, easy to follow for the audience and fun to play from a performer’s perspective.

This Piece made it onto our list of The 19 Best Flute Concertos Not by Mozart.