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ClassicsOnline Home » MUCZYNSKI: Works for Flute (Complete)
The opening work on this disc is Muczynski's Quintet for Winds Opus 45. The work was commissioned in 1985 by the Oklahoma Woodwind Quintet and received its first performance at the Music Educator's National Conference in Anaheim, California, in April 1986. Muczynski characterizes this work as "lyrical, rhythmic and expressionistic," and states that he attempted to give rewarding parts to all players. Written in a contemporary idiom that is nonetheless instantly accessible, Muczynski creates a work that is endearing and memorable. His keen sense of texture and ensemble allows the five players to interact joyfully in this music. It has become one of the composer's most popular works and a repertoire staple of woodwind quintets.
The Duos for Flutes, Opus 34, was composed in 1973. These six pieces, like other works by Muczynski use irregular meters and strongly accented patterns to create an irresistible rhythmic drive. His lyrical tendencies, though restrained and framed within spare, neoclassical textures, frequently break through his earnest musical language.
Moments for Flute and Piano, Opus 47 was completed during the spring of 1992. It is dedicated to Alexandra Hawley in memory of the composer's mother. Alexandra Hawley gave the world première of this work at Merkin Hall, New York, on March I4th, 1993. Muczynski has provided the following notes. “The first movement opens with the flute presenting a jaunty subject of wide intervals punctuated by piano chords. Following this interplay, the music arrives at an Adagio section of expressive character, both wistful and introspective. A sudden shift in tempo brings back the pulsating Allegro in modified form and after a brief development the meter changes to 6/8 (coda), carrying the movement to a forceful conclusion. A brief statement assigned to solo piano introduces the central movement. Flute and piano then share in music both elegiac and reflective until arriving at a sunny theme in 5/8 meter. From this point forward the music gains in intensity leading to an accelerating flute solo which establishes (attacca) the tempo for the final movement. The Allegro con spirito takes off in rondo form. While there are a few dark moments along the way, they are quickly dispelled as the work concludes in a jubilant flourish.”
Muczynski composed the Fragments for Woodwind Trio in 1958. The five miniatures (Waltz, Solitude, Holiday, Reverie, and Exit) are youthful, exuberant, and musically concise. The earliest work on this recording, Fragments presents a preview of the varied expressive and rhythmic characteristics of the composer's musical style. Each piece is like a colour snapshot of a memorable moment in one's life - a first dance, a quiet moment alone, a holiday picnic, a day-dream, and perhaps, a dash for home and a taste of mother's apple pie.
The Three Preludes for Unaccompanied Flute, Opus 18, were composed in 1962. Muczynski writes, “These brief encore pieces were composed not long after my Sonata for Flute and Piano, Opus 14, and represent my first efforts in writing music for a solo instrument without accompaniment. The task was more difficult than I expected since the
solo line is everything, with the musical statements utterly exposed and somehow vulnerable. An implied harmonic scheme had to be considered in addition to the rhythmic aspects which require a well-defined projection by the solo flute in order to throw the musical lines into proper relief. The Preludes are fleeting excursions into moods of different character jaunty, nocturnal, and free-wheeling.”
Movements for Wind Quintet, Opus 16, was also composed in 1962. Once again we encounter a composer who is totally at home in the medium. Although there are fleeting influences of such composers as Bartók, Piston and Barber, this lyrical, unostentatious, neoclassical music shows Muczynski's superb craftsmanship. In the faster sections, the music is strongly accented with a vigorous drive. This is music that breathes, that is thoroughly American and completely enjoyable.
The Duos for Flute and Clarinet are the six miniatures Muczynski originally composed for two flutes. The composer rearranged these works in 1984 for clarinettist Mitchell Lurie and flautist Julius Baker for maximum advantage for their two instruments.
Without a doubt, Muczynski's Sonata for Flute and Piano, Opus 14, which he wrote between 1960 and 1961, is one of the truly great twentieth-century works for flute. The first two performances took place in 1961 at the Academy of Music in Nice, France, where the work was awarded the Concours International Prize. This work has become exceptionally popular among performers and has been a "required" work for many major flute competitions. The composer provides the following notes. “Most of the music was composed in Oakland, California, during the spring of 1960 at which time I was on assignment to that area on a Ford Foundation Fellowship Grant. Two movements were composed there, and the remaining movements were written in Chicago... 'Too difficult. Few will choose to play it,' was the verdict of a flautist-friend following our first reading of the Flute Sonata in Chicago in 1961. In a sense he was right. It is a difficult work for both the flautist and pianist, although this aspect was not foremost in my mind during the writing period. Rather, I wanted to write music for the solo instrument devoid of frills and cascading swirls of notes which have become flute clichés in much of the early twentieth century literature for the flute. I tried to reveal the instrument as one that is capable of projecting music which is pungent in character rather than just serene and sweetly melodic.” Muczynski continues, “In Sonata-Allegro form, the first movement begins with a syncopated four note figure announced by the flute. It has a restless urgency about it. This motive is gradually expanded, developed and varied as the music unfolds. There is frequent reference to it as both flute and piano share the ongoing dialogue. A pulsating energy is maintained throughout. The chattering Scherzo (6/8) is both whimsical and headstrong, requiring considerable control and endurance from the flautist. It is concentrated music; it goes by quickly and establishes a need for the contrasting movement which follows. As a respite from the two energetic movements, the Andante favours a kind of intimate and sustained music wherein the flute is assigned expressive, soaring lines of high intensity while the piano provides a subdued accompaniment throughout. The final, fourth movement, in rondo form, resumes the impetuous character of the opening music and sweeps along until arriving at a reckless "cadenza" for the flute followed by an outburst from the piano, as both instruments share in a conclusion of staggered rhythms and all-out abandon.”
Marina and Victor Ledin, Encore Consultants, 1998
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MUCZYNSKI: Works for Flute (Complete)