Music for Flute and Piano Op.22 was written in late 1997 and was commissioned by flutist Elizabeth Ko. The work is a suite of four movements, the last of which is an interpretation of a medieval virtuoso dance.
The first movement, 'Moderato', is a slow fantasia. It introduces both instruments with sonorous gestures and extended improvisatory like passages.
The second movement, 'Allegro ben ritmico', creates a great contrast to the previous movement: Sparse and very regular at first, it grows into a rapid and intense virtuoso duel between the two instruments. A middle section brings a new, much calmer and restrained atmosphere. Eventually, the movement returns in a gradual fashion back to the movement's original character.
The third movement, 'Winterhaze...' flirts with impressionism, vague harmonies refer to tonality, the piece never seems to get to a solid harmonic center to which we can relate all else. I imagine a landscape after a severe winter storm. The air is moist, there is glazed frost, every now and then the sun peeks through strands of fog, and everything is mostly shades of gray. A brief period of thaw makes water drip of the icicles. But winter is not over yet.
The fourth movement, 'Principio di Virtu' is inspired by medieval dance music. For most of the piece, the flute plays in its upper register imitating the sound of a recorder, while the piano takes on the role of percussion. The flute part is mostly diatonic and is written in mixed modal style. The piano uses the lower register to imitate a resonant bass-drum and, in the higher register, the rhythmically more pronounced tenor drum. Harmonically, the piano is as off as a bass drum would be, creating an exciting harmonic friction. The true key of the modalities is supported occasionally by simple open fifth harmonies that could have been played by fiddles. The music requires great agility and stamina on the part of the flutist: To create a bit of rest for the flutist, the piano has a brief solo after the third phrase (each phrase being 24 measures long). In this solo, the piano takes us back to our times and gets rid of the ostinato bass. Then the dance rhythm returns, and the flute takes up the tune again, working its way to a final climax.
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