Duo for Flute and Marimba

Robert Paterson

About this work:
There were two particular goals I had while writing this duo. I wanted to write a piece that was substantially longer than a usual five-minute, one-movement chamber piece, and I also wanted to write a work with a marimba part that uses six mallets for someone other than me. Ingrid, being one of my most courageous friends, offered to learn this difficult technique if I would write a piece for Kesatuan. This duo is constructed in three contrasting movements. Although the outer two movements have more in common with each other than with the jazzy, “playfully seductive” second movement, shared motives, melodic fragments, textures and rhythmic ideas permeate all three. The flutist has an opportunity to use an alto flute in the last movement, and the marimbist uses six mallets in the first movement and five mallets in the third. My general goal with this duo is to squeeze as much color, contrapuntal interplay and excitement out of this combination of instruments as possible. The first movement is meant to have a somewhat soothing quality, defined by lightly ornamented flute lines and sound planes in the marimba part. The structure of this movement is essentially a simple A, B, A’ form. The jazz-influenced second movement is written for a friend I met during the summer of 1998 named Elyse, with whom my wife Victoria and I became good friends. Elyse not only has a beautiful singing voice, she also happens to be a flutist. During one of our many discussions, she told me that her father had played the role of Tony for a short time in the first Broadway production of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. A few times, we had fun playing and singing through her West Side Story songbook. During this movement, I refer to West Side Story and also to Elyse, her bass-playing ex-boyfriend, Victoria and even myself through thematic leitmotifs. The form of this movement is similar to the first, in that the introductory material is re-introduced near the end of the movement. The third movement is similar to the first movement in that it also contains marimba sound planes and ornamented flute lines. Themes are borrowed and developed from the first two movements, and both the first and third movements contain flute cadenzas. The end of this movement is intended to provide an exciting conclusion to the entire three-movement work.
Year composed: 1989
Duration: 00:15:00
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Unknown
Instrumentation: 1 Flute, 1 Marimba
Instrumentation notes: For flute (doubling alto flute and piccolo) and marimba (four, five and six-mallet).

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