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Track(s) taken from CKD367

Concerto for flute and orchestra, Op 39


Katherine Bryan (flute), Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Paul Daniel (conductor)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: August 2009
Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, Scotland
Produced by Philip Hobbs
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: September 2010
Total duration: 24 minutes 43 seconds


'A product of Chetham's School of Music and the Juilliard School, finalist three years running in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition and currently principal flute with the RSNO, Katherine Bryan certainly makes her mark in the likeable anthology for Linn on which she is backed by her colleagues under Paul Daniel's sensitive lead … I need merely add that Bryan's lustrous tone manages to emerge unscathed within the far-from-accommodating acoustic of Glasgow's Henry Wood Hall' (Gramophone)

'The chief delight here is Lennox Berkeley's orchestration of Poulenc's brilliantly coloured flute sonata from 1957, which packs more ideas into a few minutes than anything achieved in Liebermann's laboured full-scale concerto. Bryan also gives a nimble account of Nielsen's quixotic 1926 concerto, beautifully supported by Paul Daniel and the Scottish National players' (The Observer)

'Principal flautist of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Katherine Bryan invests in what she plays with heart and soul. Lowell Liebermann's concerto, written for James Galway, could be labelled 'neo-romantic conservative'. With its long, athletic, curling melodies, it could also be called adorable. Nielsen's concerto brings spikier material. In between, Poulenc's Flute Sonata, in orchestral dress, slips down pleasantly' (The Times)

'The choir of the Temple Church and Holst Singers with the Brass Ensemble of the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Layton, capture the concert-version of this epic eight-hour work. It was conceived to last through the night until dawn, in the spirit of the grand vigils of the Orthodox Church. Tavener regarded it as the supreme achievement of his life. A must for devotees' (The Northern Echo)
Born in New York, in 1961, Lowell Liebermann’s output as a composer is substantial and wide-ranging, covering genres including opera and concertos, as well as orchestral, chamber, vocal, choral and instrumental music. Known as one of the most significant of contemporary composers, his works have garnered much critical claim, wide renown and numerous awards.

Described as one of the most frequently commissioned and performed of living American composers, Liebermann was a student of Vincent Persichetti and David Diamond at New York’s Juilliard School of Music, and has been championed for some years by various musicians, including the renowned flautist Sir James Galway. Liebermann’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra, Op 39, completed in 1992, was composed at the request of Galway, and was first performed on 6 November the same year in St Louis, Missouri with Galway as soloist and Leonard Slatkin conducting the Saint Louis Symphony.

The flute concerto was not the first solo work that Liebermann had written for the instrument, the year 1987 seeing a Sonata for Flute and Piano (Op 23), while a Sonata for Flute and Guitar (Op 25) was completed by Liebermann in the following year. The Op 23 sonata and the later concerto are largely regarded as two of the most significant contributions to the flute repertoire in the late-twentieth century; indeed on its publication the Op 39 concerto was awarded the prize of the ‘Best Newly Published Flute Work’ by America’s National Flute Association in 1994 and, at the time of writing, recordings of the sonata number over twenty. Performances of both the sonata and concerto are also frequent, with further additions to the flute repertoire by Liebermann confirming him as a particular favourite of flautists across the globe.

Liebermann’s personal musical style is overtly tonal, which allows his compositions to be approachable and comprehensible to the general listener as well to performers. As a composer he doesn’t follow particular current trends and styles, preferring to employ largely Romantic and post-Romantic qualities within a particular contemporary American idiom. In composing for particular instruments Liebermann normally doesn’t write music or adapt his writing style with any particular performer in mind stating ‘whenever I write a piece, I always write for my imagined ideal performer”. However, Galway provided an exception to this rule, Liebermann saying “he has such an incredible sound and such incredible low notes that I did emphasize a lot of that […] He can do anything on the instrument, so I wasn’t afraid to write anything’. In being appealing to many and largely tonal, Liebermann avoids overall simplicity, and in writing for his ‘imagined ideal performer’ he creates technically exacting and challenging works.

The Concerto for Flute and Orchestra is in a traditional three-movement classical concerto format, with a Moderato first movement, a Molto adagio second movement and a closing Presto. In further discussing his compositional processes Liebermann describes how ‘I like the overall large form of the work to develop out of the smallest idea or seed that you’re working with’, a trait exemplified by the opening Moderato movement of the flute concerto, which is based around the opening repetitive theme heard in the strings. The various qualities of the flute are explored in the variations that follow the main lyrical flute theme; the flute writing becomes increasingly involved and elaborate as the movement develops, interrupted only by calmer brass chorale sections. At the end of the movement the recapitulation indicates the influence of sonata form, although with the main theme now stated by the strings while the flute presents a highly decorated line above.

The second movement of the concerto explores the lyrical and delicately translucent characteristics of the flute. Persistent and gentle string chords accompany the introduction of a whispered statement of the main theme of the movement, which is presented at various points in a serene and restful manner and at others euphoric, building towards the climax at the close of the movement. The almost relentless and often demanding final movement, Presto, has been described by Liebermann as ‘a virtuoso workout for the flutist in a rondo-like form which closes with a prestissimo coda’.

from notes by Adam Binks © 2010

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