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ClassicsOnline Home » HATZIS, C.: Flute Concertos - Departures / Overscript (P. Gallois, Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra, Myrat)
Christos Hatzis is recognised as ‘one of the most important composers writing today’. His music bears a number of influences—Christian spirituality, Byzantine music, as well as more popular idioms—and is marked by a strong identification with his source material. Two of his most prominent interpreters join forces on this recording to present two Flute Concertos. Departures is a memorial piece written at a time of personal loss and the 2011 tsunami at Fukushima, Japan and its aftermath. Its appeal is driven by the composer’s unique and eclectic style, which brings in elements of traditional Japanese folk music, blues and burlesque music. Overscript is a commentary on Bach’s Concerto in G minor for Flute, which is ingeniously quoted in full, but in fragmented form, within Hatzis’s own composition.
Christos Hatzis (b. 1953)
Departures • Overscript
Christos Hatzis’s relationship with the flute virtuoso Patrick Gallois began in 2000 with a knock on Hatzis’s office door at the University of Toronto and a question by the French master “Have you composed anything for the flute?” A year later Hatzis’s long neglected Overscript had its première at the University of Toronto with Gallois and the University ensemble of faculty and students. Alexandre Myrat, Gallois’ friend since their student days in Paris and a champion of Hatzis’s music since the early nineties, has performed Hatzis’s orchestral works constantly, often several each year, in Europe and North America. During his inaugural season (2011–12) as music director of the Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra Myrat introduced Hatzis to the Thessaloniki audiences with performances of three large-scale compositions, including Departures with Gallois as soloist.
Departures: Concerto for Flute and String Orchestra (2011)
Departures was composed during a time when a number of dear friends had passed away and while the 2011 tsunami in Fukushima in Japan and the resultant nuclear disaster were constantly in the news. The first movement, Blooming Fields, is dedicated to the memory of theatre and television director George Bloomfield. From its ‘Asiatic’ opening (a borrowing from an earlier Hatzis work), through the acrobatics for the flute and orchestra to the unexpected ‘burlesque’ interpolations further along, the music of Blooming Fields is full of exuberance and delight. Ultimately this out of control revelry is interrupted by an intense and dissonant flute multiphonic, which in turn introduces a different way of listening to the small voice within, depicted here by the quiet whistle and Aeolian tones of the flute that fade into silence. Serenity is dedicated to the memory of Bertha Modlich, an inspirational woman who passed away just shy of her 105th birthday. The music of Serenity is consistent with the title; there are clouds but they are short-lived and the music returns quickly to sunnier vistas. The latter part of Serenity is a song without words, an unpretentious slow waltz melody that seems to exist on its own terms. Progress Blues is a meditation on the nuclear disaster of Fukushima, not on the accident itself but on the lessons that can be learned from our unwarranted and single-minded faith in technological progress. The music starts with a feeling of exuberance which is not that different from that of the first movement, although Progress Blues is more restless, more impulsively driven. Its fissures show occasionally, as in the ‘wobbly’ phonograph effect that exposes the emotional pretensions of the Hollywood-like treatments of the main theme or the ‘ticking clock’ metaphors of the string pizzicati. Introspection is not absent for long (even the Hollywood-like theme undergoes a dark rethinking as a fugato) but the sheer drive forward and the forces that have given impetus in the first place succeed repeatedly in sidetracking any attempt to question the wisdom of this relentless drive or the dire consequences that it may engender. At the apogee of speed and energy the music suddenly collapses, the clocks keep ticking ominously and then… (Well: I will let the music tell you what happens next).
Overscript: Concerto for Flute and Chamber Orchestra (1993)
Originally titled Concerto for Flute and Chamber Orchestra, Overscript was mildly revised and renamed in 2012. Overscript is a palimpsest (an overwrite) of, and a musical commentary on the Concerto in G minor for Flute, Strings and Basso Continuo, BWV 1056/1, by Johann Sebastian Bach. The entire Bach concerto is included, however fragmented, in my own work. The predominant technique used in the outer movements is one of ‘intervalic stretching’ and ‘tempo compression’ of the original music. The listener is invited to make comparisons between the original and the derived materials, which, for that purpose, are always juxtaposed in close proximity as a sequence of ‘sound slices’. In the middle movement there is emotional and personal involvement with the material, which, like in a romantic concerto, will hopefully carry the listener beyond the cerebral concerns of the outer movements. Here, the opening melody—one of the most beautiful melodies by Bach—is interrupted at the point of the half-cadence, and what follows is a long development section in the romantic tradition which eventually returns to the original melody at the end. The naming of the individual movements (‘Left’, ‘Right’, ‘Left & Right’—a 2012 afterthought) has nothing to do with punches in the boxing ring but rather with hemispheric function in the human brain and how this might be reflected in the contrasting compositional approaches to the Bach material in each of the movements.
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