MARK BULLER | COMPOSER
CONCERTO FOR FLUTE, STRINGS, PERCUSSION & CELESTA (2014)
Premiered February 26, 2015 at Duncan Hall, Shepherd School of Music, Rice University, Houston, TX
Aaron Perdue, flute; orchestra conducted by Jerry Hou
Given the overwhelming depth of the Western music canon, any traditional or formal title ('Sonata,' 'Concerto,' 'Rondo,' etc.) carries many centuries' worth of connotation and association. When beginning any new work, a composer must determine how his or her creation will dialogue with the music from the past. By the very act of composing a concerto, then, the composer immediately invites comparison with every preceding concerto. Interest is created when these expectations are either fulfilled or redirected.
In my Concerto for flute, strings, percussion, and celesta, I seek to explore some of the endless possibilities suggested by this colorful ensemble, as well as to reference some of the better-known pillars of the concerto form. My concerto is loosely cast in three movements, though the lines demarcating movements are often kept purposefully indistinct; in fact, there are two main architectural sections. The first movement emerges as if from silence, as the flute rises from the shimmering orchestral colors. The second movement introduces an energetic theme built in fourths; contrapuntal lines build tension, and the melodic idea is expanded. This initial motive gives way to a groove, a sometimes-halting, offbeat rhythmic figure over which the flute unfolds a lyrical line. After this, the orchestra plays a section in which, concerto grosso-style, the ripieno is pitted against the concertino, led by the flute. After a virtuosic cadenza, we return to the movement's original subject. Finally, an extended coda reprises (and develops) the material from the first movement.
The third movement is in ternary form, resembling the quasi-arch form of the first and second movements. Here we see the flute's lyrical line contrasted with the kinetic, nervous energy of the strings. A sort of delicately-woven tapestry is created in the accompaniment, allowing the flute's natural sweetness to be displayed. The B section features the brighter timbres of the vibraphone, celesta, and harp over pizzicato and sul ponticello strings. After a reprise of the A section, we enter a coda, which catapults the concerto to an energetic finish.