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Concerto for Flute and Orchestra




Concerto for Flute and Orchestra

Instrumentation: Fl. Solo; 2(Picc.)-2-2-2; 4-3-3-1; Timp., 3Perc., Cel., Hp., Str.
Duration: 27 minutes
Commissionby Philadelphia Orchestra
Premiere: Jeffrey Khaner, flute, Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Verizon Hall, Philadelphia, October 31, 2013
Recording: Recorded by Erik Gratton, flute, Nashville Symphony Orchestra conducted by Giancarlo Gurrero for Naxos American Classics

Score and Parts: Presser Rentals  
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Online Score: Preview the score

Flute Concerto
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Flute Concerto

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About the Flute Concerto:

The melancholic tone of Ney (the Persian bamboo flute) is known for its alluring sound, emulating the human voice.  In Persian literature, Ney is considered a mystic instrument capable of expressing deep human emotions.

In writing my flute concerto I aimed not only to highlight the modern flautist’s ability to play agile and brilliant passages but also to emulate the delicate sound of Ney, particularly in extended solo flute passages.

Two prominent characters permeate the first movement of my concerto.  They are marked in the score as lamentoso, and con spirito, expressing grief and loss, and joy of living respectively.  The lament is mostly expressed in several extended cadenzas for solo flute while the con spirito consists of robust and energetic fast sections played by all forces of the orchestra.  Apart from these two characters there are moments of mystery, comedy and the grotesque, among others.

In the second movement the lyrical and poetic character of the flute is prominently presented in dream-like passages surrounded by shimmering and tender orchestral colors.  The solo flute is left out in an agitated middle section that references the first movement. In the third section of the movement the solo flute returns in meditative fashion culminating in a duet with the harp.

The third movement is written as one continuous quasi scherzo, challenging the limits of agility and brilliance of the flute.  Some of the materials from the earlier movements are presented again with joyous character.  The coda elevates the concerto into its brightest and most festive character, driving to the end with relentless energy.


" Behzad Ranjbaran's Flute Concerto was the fully realized winner. Each movement starts with an upward glissando, like pulling back a curtain on an inner world that's explored in Persian-inflected solo flute soliloquies with a strong sense of subtext, reaching great emotional candor near the end of the slow movement in an eventful, satisfying musical journey. In less inward moments, the flute played a songful role that was engagingly hijacked by some mad flourishes taking the instrument to many extremes.

Still, the composer was realistic about the flute's solo limitations (even in the hands of the ever-excellent Jeffrey Khaner), and fashioned a rich orchestration that constantly shifts in color and gesture. Much of the orchestral writing was built around stark, punchy Shostakovich-style motifs, with blocks of interruptive rhythms - all used in tight structure with no wasted moments."

-David Avid Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer


   " The concerto …. has strong motifs that make a powerful impression (particularly in the third movement), and Ranjbaran knows how to orchestrate with a fine ear for color and instrumental variety, so it has a forceful profile overall.

Its first movement has a long, moody solo cadenza at the outset (marked Grave lamentoso), which is followed by a vigorous response from the orchestra.  It made exciting listening, though, and the second movement (Adagio cantabile) provided a real contrast…. the finest music of the movement, and indeed of the whole concerto, came in its closing pages, when the texture shrinks down to the soloist and harp. In those two or three minutes, Ranjbaran finds something truly his own, a fully assimilated Persian-inflected music that was quite lovely and quite unlike anything else I know.

Flutists looking for a good contemporary concerto along with that of Nielsen would be well-advised to take a look at the Ranjbaran, overall, especially for its second movement, and for its very effective construction as a solo piece. The flute is almost always in the spotlight, and tackling immense but rewarding challenges."


- Greg Stepanich, Palm Beach Arts Paper





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