There’s a running joke that all the music I play, no one else has ever heard of. To be fair, there’s some truth in that, although I like to think that it’s just waiting to be discovered by everyone else! Sometimes, I can’t even remember how I came across pieces in the beginning, but in this blog post, I wanted to share 10 amazing pieces for flute which I’ve discovered over the years, and which I think you should discover too!
Also, a big shout out to June Emerson Wind Music (this post isn’t sponsored!) who alway supply all my flute music with such friendly and efficient. I’ve linked to the items on their website where possible.
1. Sonatina for Flute and Piano (Alan Richardson)
I first came across Alan Richardson through his music for oboe, so I was delighted to find he’d also written a Sonatina for flute. HIs output for oboe is unsurprising given he was married to the great oboist, Janet Craxton (daughter of Richardson’s teacher, Harold Craxton). He is sadly another composer whose extensive list of works have fallen into obscurity. The Sonatina comprises three movements: an opening ‘Allegretto’, a central ‘Lento’, and a closing ‘Allegro vivace’. It’s full of colour and texture, with some tricky twists and turns.
Sonatina by Alan Richardson, is published by Josef Weinberger, RRP £10.95
2. Sonata for Solo Flute (John La Montaine)
As you might see from some of my selections, I’m a big fan of unaccompanied flute music, and John La Montaine‘s Sonata is no exception. It’s another one I discovered when the second movement, ‘Jaunty’ appeared on the ABRSM Grade 8 Flute Syllabus a few years back (yes, I do look at the alternatives!) But, the other movements are also well worth a look. The first, ‘Questioning’, and third, ‘Introspective’ are perfect partners for ‘Jaunty’, but the final movement, ‘Rakish’, offers a fiery finish.
Sonata by John La Montaine, is published by Broude Brothers, BB2011, RRP £12.95
3. English Towns: Suite for Flute and Piano (Jim Parker)
Written for the BBC television series Another Six English Towns (1984), this suite by Jim Parker has been unjustly neglected. There are, in fact, seven pieces, the first being a ‘Prelude’ and the last being a ‘Finale’, and the remaining five depicting five English towns: ‘Cirencester’, ‘Whitby’, ‘Devizes’, ‘Sandwich’, and ‘Durham’. I love these pieces because they are just fun and satisfying to play. Sometimes, for all the extended and contemporary techniques, we need pieces like that. Well worth a look!
English Towns: Suite by Jim Parker, is published by Studio Music, RRP £5.95
4. Sonatina for Flute and Piano (James Rae)
Many of us, I’m sure, discovered this piece when the first movement appeared on the ABRSM Grade 8 Flute Syllabus a few years ago, but how many of you have explored the other two movements? With a contemporary jazz influence, but truly original in its style, the three movements match perfectly. The second, ‘Nocturne’ is a slow lament making effective use of the lower range of the flute, whilst the third movement, ‘Fire Dance’ offers an explosive finale to the Sonatina. The final movement is, on balance, slightly trickier than the first, so the Sonatina as a whole would be a great stepping stone from Grade 8 to diploma. The middle movement is a very effective standalone solo of around Grades 5-6 standard.
Sonatina by James Rae, is published by Reedimensions, RD028, RRP £9.75
5. Invocations of Pan for Solo Flute (Christopher Ball)
Originally for solo recorder, Invocations of Pan is inspired by the poem A Musical Instrument by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Almost like improvisations, and with a little nod in places to Debussy’s Syrinx, Christopher Ball (who died in 2022) has written an effective suite of three ‘Pan’ pieces for solo flute. Like so much unaccompanied music, they require real control, sustain and often, finger dexterity. They’re they kind of pieces which, just like Syrinx, benefit from being played in a wide, open space. They have appeared on the higher grades of exam syllabuses at various times, and would be ideal for flautists around Grades 7-8.
Invocations of Pan by Christopher Ball, is published by Emerson Edition, E554, RRP £7.50
6. Trillium for Solo Flute (Elizabeth Brown)
Written in 1999, Elizabeth Brown‘s Trillium describes the ‘beautiful early spring woodland wildflower with leaves and white petals in threes’. Written for solo flute, it requires the player to master a number of extended techniques such as microtones, alternative timbres, timbral trills, multiphonics, tremolo and harmonics. Don’t let this put you off, because if, like me, these are new to you, Brown give very clear directions about how these should be tackled. In that sense, it’s a great piece to really explore some of these extended flute techniques. For me, definitely a post-Grade 8 level piece, but worth the effort.
Trillium by Elizabeth Brown, is published by Quetzal Music, 03Q020000001, RRP $7.00 (PDF)
7. Meditazioni Sopra ‘Cœrs Désolés’ for Flute and Piano (Edmund Rubbra)
I feel a little bit of a cheat including this piece as it was originally written for recorder and harpsichord, though as the cover states, it can also be played on flute or oboe with piano. Rubbra‘s gift for writing haunting melodies shines through. Indeed, I first heard this played on recorder, so perhaps the challenge here is translating that sound to the flute. It is such a beautiful piece requiring real control and sustain for effective performance. For me, the attention to detail required to perform the piece convincingly puts it at around Grade 7-8 standard.
Meditazioni Sopra ‘Cœr Désolés’ by Edmund Rubbra, is published by Lengnick, 3689, RRP £4.90
8. Regrets and Resolutions for Flute and Piano (Gary Shocker)
Look at the back of this book, and you quickly see how extensive Gary Shocker‘s output for flute is. There are literally dozens of pieces for a whole range of combinations, including his brilliant Ambidextranata for flute and piano, 1 player. Regrets and Resolutions is a beautiful, melodious piece which really takes the player, and audience, on a journey. The piece combines some soaring melodies with some tricky finger-work in the middle section, these, no doubt, requiring some double tonguing. The middle section returns as a finale, giving the piece a fire-filled resolution.
Regrets and Resolutions by Gary Shocker, is published by Theodore Presser Company, ISBN 159806§542, RRP £19.50
9. Beside Still Waters: 5 Reflections on Psalm 23 for Flute and Piano (Tim Knight)
Whilst Tim is perhaps best known for his choral music, his instrumental output is extensive. Amongst a number of suites for flute and piano, Beside Still Waters contains five reflections on words from Psalm 23. They are sold as being for ‘C instrument’, but work particularly effectively on the flute. The five movements are all of around Grades 3-4 standard, and the suite as a whole offers an excellent introduction for players of this level, to playing a multi-movement work. The piano accompaniment is always supportive, but an integral part of the ensemble.
Beside Still Waters: 5 Reflections on Psalm 23 by Tim Knight, is published by Tim Knight Music, TKM603, RRP £1.95
10. Sonatina for Flute and Piano (Shena Fraser)
Shena Fraser was a Scottish pianist and composer who also wrote under the pseudonym, Sebastien Scott. She produced 100s of choral works, alongside instrumental and chamber music compositions. Her Sonatina for flute and piano was one of her last, written four years before her death in 1993. The seven-minute work contains three movements: firstly an undulating ‘Comodo’, which is followed by a lilting ‘Andante piacevole’ in 5/8, and lastly, a lively ‘Allegro spiritoso’. It would be idea for a flautist of around Grade 7 level who wanted to tackle a multi-movement work.
Sonatina by Shena Fraser, is published by Novello, NOV120664, RRP £9.99
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