Friday, April 06, 2012

The Chameleon Flute in  Concert

The flute can sound like a singer, mimic a violin or even imitate a blackbird—and in this concert featuring Laura Snodgrass on flute and Daniela Mineva on piano, it does all three, and more. The flute as chameleon is the theme on Friday April 6 at the Fulkerson Recital Hall.

“In every piece on the program, the flute is imitating another instrument or sound,” said HSU Music faculty member Laura Snodgrass. In two selections, this involves adapting the original composition. Claude Debussy first wrote “Chanson de Billitis” for voice, but later re-worked it for flute and piano, with the flute taking the singing part.

Cesar Franck’s Sonata in A is among the best known works for violin and piano, transcribed for flute and piano. “Retaining the style and timbre of a stringed instrument while maximizing the capabilities of the flute is very challenging,” Snodgrass said. “The piece literally transforms and reinvents itself in performance on the flute.”

French composer Olivier Messiaen believed birds to be the greatest musicians and in the later part of his composing career he incorporated his transcriptions of birdsong into a number of pieces. One of the first was La Merle Noir, written for piano and flute in 1952 and based entirely on the song of the Eurasian blackbird.

But can the chameleon flute pull off the most difficult imitation of all—another flute? In 3 Bagatelles from China West by Chen Yi, the western flute must mimic the traditional Chinese wooden flute. “It uses a lot of micro-tones and slide effects not typical of the western metal instrument,” Snodgrass said, “so it calls for a very different playing style.”

This is the second piece by contemporary Chinese composer Chen Yi played at HSU this spring, in advance of her appearance on campus and two concerts devoted to her music on April 22 and 23.

Laura Snodgrass and Daniela Mineva perform this Faculty Artist Series concert on Friday April 6 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets: $8/$3 students and seniors from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Proceeds to HSU Music scholarship fund. Produced by the HSU Department of Music.

Media: Tri-City Weekly, Humboldt State Now, Arcata Eye.

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