|||Music for Flute and Orchestra

Music for Flute and Orchestra

2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (2nd doubling bass clarinet), 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, timpani, 2 percussion, harp, piano, solo flute, strings

Commissioned for ALEA III and the Empire Brass Quintet, Music for Flute and Orchestra does not follow the traditional three-movement Baroque concerto form, but is instead a set of six variations. It pays homage to the Baroque and Classical styles in its concern for symmetry, traditional chord structures, felt meters, uncluttered textures, and solo instrumental writing that demands virtuosity without recourse to the non-traditional playing techniques and special effects prevalent in much contemporary music.

The music that begins and ends Music for Flute and Orchestra is marked “very rhythmic; dancing” in the score, and it presents a shifting array of sharply etched melodic motives in rapidly changing meter. That edgy, jazzy music encloses a central core of calmer music, roughly twice as slow (or half as fast), which enlarges upon the same melodic ideas. This work was written for flutist William Wittig.

The New American Scene CD cover The New American Scene: Including Ronald Perera’s Music for Flute and Orchestra, performed by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, William Wittig, flute, Edwin London, conductor. On Albany Records, Troy298.

Available on:
Albany Records

Composed: 1990
Duration: 10:00
Publisher: Music Associates of New York


Perera’s “Music for Flute and Orchestra” received its premiere Wednesday night. At 21 minutes it was by far the longest work on the program. It is actually a set of seven variations in which a brass quintet (The Empire) coexists, contentedly and otherwise, with an orchestra of woodwinds and percussion. Perera has an acute ear for sonority. There was a gripping opening dialogue between on and off-stage trumpets, vivid use of various mutes, some stirring bell sounds (Boris Godunov came to mind), wildly swirling wind writing, and floor-shaking bass. Despite a lack of subtlety (at least in this performance), and emphasis on sound per se, Perera’s instantly accessible music compels attention through its sheer visceral impact.

Boston Globe 3/21/84

A single movement sandwiching some delicate, contemplative “night music” between sections driven by rambunctious, angular motivic hijinks, Perera’s colorfully scored, tightly conceived work gave the orchestra an opportunity to enjoy greater extremes of expression than Mozart would allow. It also called into play a modestly sized but deftly employed percussion section, punctuating the musical conversation between flute and orchestra with a tam-tam stroke here, the pearly note of a crotale there, and carefully placed cymbal crashes of varying intensity. Smith and the SSO gave the Perera an enthusiastic, incisive reading. Its calculatedly capricious meter changes seemed well assimilated by conductor and orchestra, and the whole flowed with admirable organic smoothness.

Springfield (MA) Union-News 2/8/99

]Perera treats the flute as a seductive and temperamental protagonist, sending the soloist on fanciful flights and tuneful adventures that complement the sometimes grand rhetoric of the orchestra.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer