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Trio for Flute, Violin and Viola presents a wonderful opportunity for the contemporary flutist, whose repertoire does not include many chamber music pieces in this late Romantic style. This trio is strongly influenced by late German Romanticism and late French Impressionism. Saturated in sumptuous chromaticism and featuring sultry melodic lines (and over sixteen minutes in duration), the Trio for Flute, Violin and Viola is a highly substantive work in the flutist’s late Romantic repertoire.

Jan van Gilse - Trio for flute, viola and violin

Suzanne Snizek, flute; Keith Hamm, viola; Aaron Schwebel, violin; Louis Ranger, recording producer

Drei stille Lieder was written in 1955 and was dedicated to his wife, whom he married in 1953. The three miniature movements (“Love,” “Answer” and “Consolation”) feature poetic text by Frantisek Halas. According to literary critic Vera Blackwell, Halas was one of the leading voices of the Czech resistance during the German occupation. Eben’s phrases are often asymmetrical and his melodies quasi-improvisational. Featuring short repetitive phrases, ornamented and folk-like melodic content, Eben frequently embraces dissonance but always in an accessible way. The work is scored for high voice, flute and harp or piano; this performance features tenor, flute and piano. Thank you to Dr. Červenková for her help in providing insight and contextual background information regarding this trio.

Petr Eben - Drei stille Lieder

Suzanne Snizek, flute; Benjamin Butterfield, tenor; Alexandria Le, piano; Aaron Schwebel and Keith Hamm, recording producer

Sonata for flute and piano was the last work Smit would complete before being deported to Westerbork transit camp. While it is impossible to assert direct musical connections between this work and his tragic life circumstances, the deeply poignant slow middle movement of this work often has a strong emotional impact on listeners. It remains more often performed and recorded than the rest of the Sonata, whose difficulty might dissuade less technically developed flutists (and, for that matter, their pianist: this work is equally challenging for both players). However, this Sonata is a substantial, though relatively unknown, contribution to the Twentieth century flute repertoire.

Trio for flute, viola and piano, written later in Weinberg's life (1979), is a sophisticated and mature work. The first movement is haunting in its pathos and tortured twisting melodies. Deeply chromatic, it seems to express an existential struggle yielding no satisfactory solution. The second movement exhibits some of the same pessimism, but the conflict eventually settles into an extraordinary transcendence mid- movement. This peacefulness is very short-lived and the movement concludes in an unsettled manner. The final movement possesses an ominous carnival-like mania. Indeed, for practical financial reasons, Weinberg had often composed for the circus, film and theatre. One can easily hear that sonic experience in this last frenzied movement, albeit with sophisticated quintuplet groupings and nearly virtuosic passages for all three players.

Mieczyslaw Weinberg - Trio for flute, viola and piano, opus 127

Suzanne Snizek, flute; Joanna Hood, viola; Alexandria Le, piano; Ajtony Csaba, recording producer

Sonata for flute and piano is an especially rhythmically compelling work. Persistent and intricate syncopations (jazz was an influence for Blacher) are featured in the first movement. The last movement is a study in perpetual motion, expressed in energetic triplet figures. However, the soul of the work lies in the lyrical expressiveness and deep melancholy of the second movement. Though written in 1940, this represents the first recording of the Sonata. It is hoped that other flutists will be inspired to include this fine work in their repertoire.

Recorded at the University of Victoria, School of Music, Phillip T. Young Recital Hall, June 2016
Recording, editing and additional production by Kirk McNally