There are many works attributed to J.S. Bach that – present day – music historians unearth may not actually be written by Johann Sebastian; such is the case for BWV 1031 (or the Sonata in EbM) which is now more commonly linked to C.P.E. Bach, one of J.S. Bach’s sons. This is significant because of the differences in complex melodic, harmonic, and bass line material; as well as notation in the UrText edition. All of which become apparent the more one plays Baroque repertoire; however, at a first glance this work may seem to fit right in with the rest of the BWV catalogue.
In this analysis, I will primarily be focusing on the conversational element between the flute and harpsichord (piano). Additionally, referencing the structure of the flute line and recurring material.
I. Allegro moderato
Following a melismatic 8 bar introduction, the flute enters relatively independent. The steady eighths of the left hand provide stability as the right hand plays a contrary moving reduction of the flute line for the first several bars… with some similar motion (ie. stepwise vs. leaps). Generally, anytime the rhythm lines up the melodic material moves in the opposite direction.
By beat 3 in m. 11 there is a switch – marked by the sixteenths in the RH of the piano – to a conversation between the flute line and the RH. Of particular interest, m. 16-18 have contrasting material however the downbeats are moving in the same downward motion. With the flute playing C-Bb-A and the RH of the piano playing A-G-F (2 minor thirds, and the last an unexpected Major third). The use of 3s (a recurring motive) is common in Baroque and Classical music; generally, in performance practice, the structure of less, more, most is applied to vary each iteration.
Furthermore, the first time the LH of the piano breaks from it’s steady eighth notes is directly after this set of 3s in m. 18-20 where the eighth to quarter pickup is similar to the dance motive seen in movement 3.
The RH of the piano and flute are rhythmically similar again in m. 21-26 for a HC cadence on the downbeat of m. 26.
The flute entrance in m. 32 is transposed up a fifth from the original (now in the Dominant – BbM); and the role of the RH and flute are very similar to the introduction. This changes in the pickup to m. 40 where the RH is playing the inversion of the flute line (rather than a M6 of Bb down to Db, the piano is playing a m3 Db down to Bb).
The remainder of the movement is much more conversational; in the image below notice the annotations for how frequently the flute and RH are either playing in rhythmic unison or alternating to form a composite of steady sixteenth notes.
A siciliano is a dance performers of the Baroque era were familiar with; the dance is marked by a slow lilting rhythm (commonly the dotted sixteenth, eighth, sixteenth), and while in minor is not ‘sad’ rather evoking a pastorale setting. This movement is in g minor – however, the tonic is mainly reinforced in the LH of the piano and not in the lilting flute line.
In this movement notice how the RH of the piano is ‘mechanical’ with the steady sixteenths rolling for the majority of the movement.
And perpetuating the conversational idea, every time the flute plays sixteenth notes the piano takes over the lilting rhythmic line.
Back to EbM, this movement combines dance motives from the 2nd movement with the conversational elements from the 1st movement. Aside from cadential points, the flute and piano create a composite of consistent sixteenth notes.
In m. 14-17 the piano prefaces the dance motive – which features a strong-weak relationship between the first and following notes; which the flute takes on in m. 24-27.
As far as the conversational elements: the sustained pitch in the flute on F5 in m. 33-35 is passed off the the piano 4 bars later m. 39-41 on Bb4. This sections the play with thirds/sixths inversions throughout; when the movement started the piano was above the flute (C6 above A6) while in this section the flute is now playing a 3rd above the piano.
What are your thoughts on this Sonata? Let me know in the comments below.
The week this post will be live is also the same week I will be performing Frank Martin’s Ballade for my final Masters’ recital. Given the priority of recording – over live rehearsals – I have been able to be much more detail focused on this piece than I could have ever been in ‘normal’ times. This is not an easy piece by an means; if you are not familiar with the work allow me to break down the sections and shed some insight on what I’ve learned over the past few months.
Let’s start with the composer: Frank Martin. He is a Swiss composer who lived from 1890-1974 and he studied piano and composition with J. Lauber. Early on he was influenced by French composers – in the early 20th century, the distinct impressionist style of French music such as by Faure. Around the 1930s he also studied with Arnold Schoenberg; the culminating of these contrasting composing styles finally came together in the late 1930s. Gerhard Braun’s notes in the Universal score put it best, “these compositions blend twelve-tone technique and functional harmony, frequent use of ostinato and pedal point, the incorporation of perfect major and minor triads and exploitation of the melodic and harmonic tensions generated by the leading note and the tonic.”
Frank Martin’s Ballade was originally written for flute and piano when composed in 1939; it was composed to be premiered at the Geneva International Music Competition of that same year. Several years later, in 1941, the Ballade was adapted for flute and orchestra.
Before getting into the piece, and honorable mention is Paula Robison’s Masterclass: Frank Martin Ballade pour flute et piano. This book – as the title would suggest – workshops the Ballade and is a great resource for anyone who either loves to listen to the piece or intends on performing it. I won’t recap much of what she says within my own analysis because I think Robison writes so concisely; however, the use of medieval poetry (speech patterns) is something worth looking into when studying the Ballade.
The first question is: how do we section the Ballade? Generally the tempo markings indicate a change in texture, timbre, or color; the ones that I regard as significant are as follows:
What interesting is that when broken up into 6 sections of similar lengths the form resembles in a warped mirror.
Like an: A B C-C B’ A’
The material from the Allegro ben moderato returns at the very end in the Meno mosso – slightly distorted; the material in the Molto Vivace comes BEFORE the Meno mosso with a varied version of the original Vivace motives. The Cadenza and the Lento / Con moto sections act as the mirror or the axis for the larger A and B themes to reflect.
A: Allegro ben moderato (m. 1-43)
The work opens with the conversational eighth note motive. There is no real tonal center – a la Schoenberg – however, this is NOT a tone row either… so what is it? There are three 2 bar sets within the opening: (1) G A Bb F#; (2) F# E# G# A (3) B# B A# Gx. The only discernible pattern is that each time there is a move upward by a half step such as from G to G# to Gx.
The cyclic eighth notes are broken by a register change – which is another trademark of the piece. And you will notice that following that break that the beaming changes from 6 to two groups of 3. Where Martin is setting up the 2 v 3 (and 3 v 2) between the flute and piano early on. In measure 11, there is a ‘new’ beginning on new pitches, however, this does not proceed the same way we heard it the first time because another set of two groups of 3 interrupt the motive and propel the flute line into a syncopated, extreme interval idea.
One more time we get a ‘new’ beginning, this time a half step higher than the last (m. 11) and now the roles are reverse where the flute is playing the 2 while the piano has 3.
We get more intervals mixed in with short 2 bar snippets of the transposed opening motive before our first set of sixteenth notes ascends to the climax of the opening which falls down with syncopations into the Piu Tranquillo. The piano is back to playing 2s (more of a 6/8) while the flute is playing in 3/4 on a single note that is syncopated, maintaining that conversational element from the very opening of the section.
B: Vivace / Half = Dotted Half (m. 44-153)
This next section is interesting, mostly because of the Half = Dotted Half section which is simultaneously stable and unstable. At first glance it may seem odd to roll that section into B however it juxtaposes the section to create this contrast to the high energy; the calmness/song-like line of the Half = Dotted Half is like a delayed echo to the abundance of material the Vivace throws at us. This echo is reinforced too, by m. 147-148, which is a transposed version of the Vivace‘s m. 62-63.
Both the tempo and rhythm contrast the opening A section. The tempo increase is initiated by the piano and then the flute spring boards with new (small unit) rhythms. Compared to the A section which heavily used eighth notes, the B section as sixteenths and an abundance of triplet figures.
The Half = Dotted Half section may seem calm (notated ‘dolce cantabile’) compared to the first half of the B section; however the 2 over 3 (flute in 2/4 and piano in 3/4) is just a small sample of Martin playing with polyrhythms.
And the B section ends with a return to the primary material – the eighths [rest] sixteenth figure – that leaps to the high E6.
Cadenza (m. 154-193)
The cadenza restates the resonant E octave leap that ended the B section. A similar style reminiscent of the A section is recycled in the initial ‘moderato’ – this time playing with the interval of a half step reinforced as a sort of palindrome (reinforcing the mirror analogy).
This introduction intensifies and then suddenly steps back at the second ‘moderato’ with a contrasting piano dynamic a tritone lower than the opening E6. This new section is a sort of ‘haze’ or smoke and mirrors – at least in a tonal sense – as Martin reinforces the pedal Ab as well as (one half step down) G while altering the subsequent pitches. The pitches held on fermatas may indicate some type of stabilizing the tonal center, however, it is an illusion – as Martin does not feature one area for too long. One of these illusions is the recurring A – C – F:
As you can see from the score, this instances are fleeting.
C: Lento / Con moto (m. 194-272)
If you thought Martin may finally resolve to F… you’d be close, he choses to start the Lento on F#… but then of course if you refer to the piano score he writes a G# (a M2) to shatter any tonal security.
This is all new material both the Lento and Con moto contrast everything from the A and B sections by providing a moment of stasis in the music; and this works – or at least is able to hold interest – because of the diverse array of pitches he is using in the flute and piano lines. And corresponding, once the tonal center is more stable, Martin returns (briefly) to the A material where he expands the eighth note patterns in several ways (1) articulation patterns (2) intervals and (3) rests/syncopations.
This section ends with lively triplets (used in a different way than they have been in the B section) as they are constant, in a chromatic pattern rolling upwards to a high C7 on the downbeat of the Presto.
B’: Presto / Molto Vivace (m. 273-323)
The piano responds to the high energy, before scaling back and bringing us around to the reflection of the mirror B’ or the Molto vivace.
The first difference is the flute entrance in m. 287-290 on the tied notes and with the graces. Then, Martin alters the articulation pattern for the triplets and abridges the pattern so that the climax arrives at the peak of the energy of the triplet section.
And this climax is amazingly simple – just B Bb and A – in different rhythms.
A’: Meno mosso / Presto (m. 324-358)
Finally, the B Bb A resolves to a G# continuing the downward half step trajectory; and after a brief sequence, the introductory theme comes back in a new ‘key’ with the transformative elements from the C section of articulation and intervals. In the ‘animando’ Martin blends the triplets from the B section into the texture continuing to play with intervals. Again, we see the tritone – Ab to D this time.
What do you think of the Ballade? My recital will have a live premiere on Sunday April 18th at 5PM – feel free to stop in to hear the Ballade which is on the first half of the program!
As an undergraduate student there was a time that I was playing bassoon and brass (trumpet and trombone) all in one semester… how do you maintain a solid flute embouchure going back and forth?
General Observations and Thoughts
You may have heard this before, but the flute is very similar to singing. When you break it down – the mouth shape (or vowel), tongue position, resonator or power source (diaphragm; chest; throat; head), etc.
Having knowledge of what you are doing to achieve an ideal sound on not just the flute, but all your other instruments will enable you to switch between them with more ease.
I always found that I learned so much more about my flute playing by playing other instruments. The idea of doing the extreme opposite really reinforced specific flute concepts for me – for example, the low, tall embouchure required to play bassoon compared to the higher jaw and tongue position needed for flute.
Strings, Percussion and Keyboard
Given the non-windness™️ of these instruments there is not really any challenge transition between these two instrument families to the flute.
The benefit of these instruments – in my own experience – has been the visual conception of range and intervals. If we are being honest FLUTE FINGERINGS MAKE VERY LITTLE SENSE… when playing a stringed or fretted instrument or a keyboard the distance between larger intervals is a tangible thing.
Doubling on another wind instrument can be extremely fatiguing – this is true for woodwinds as well. The brass instruments produce sound in a more direct way than the flute, however, the mouthpieces do provide some resistance that you would not otherwise have when playing flute (especially HORN). The larger brass instruments (trombone, euphonium and tuba) – in my experience – would allow me to be much more flexible with my air.
Another note on fatigue is your lips after buzzing – especially if you don’t have the endurance to sustain it for long periods – will impact the balance between your top and bottom lip when playing flute. It can create tightness or the upwards lift of the corners of your embouchure when playing flute which you will need to actively keep an eye on.
One major pro that I experienced when doubling on brass was the resonance. My air flow was so much more open and connected between low-middle and high as a result of the buzzing. However, you can create the same effect by doing lip trills from singing.
Woodwinds: Single Reed
Out of all of the doubling pairs I found clarinet and saxophone to be the most difficult when trying to go back to flute. I believe this is for several reasons (1) the resistance on the single reed instruments is SIGNIFICANTLY more than the flute and (2) thus requires a different embouchure, tongue position, etc.
I can’t speak for the lower instruments – bass clarinet or bari saxophone – but definitely the Bb Clarinet and Alto/Tenor Saxophones are not so similar to flute… but also not contrasting.
Woodwinds: Double Reed
What is contrasting is bassoon, and even oboe to an extent.
The double reeds are more similar to flute than the single reeds; I find this mainly because both the top and bottom part of the lip are touching the reed are the air is being sent directly into the instrument. Yes, there is more resistance than playing the flute, but less resistance than the single reeds.
For bassoon – as mentioned – the embouchure is almost the exact opposite to the flute which (for some people) can make it easy to transition between the two because it’s such a stark contrast. The register difference also helps with your mind compartmentalizing the instruments.
For oboe, I’ve found pretty much the same in regards to set up. However, I find the roadblock with oboe is more so the technical end. Both the flute and the oboe are high maintenance instruments – the the oboe is EXTRA maintenance, which for me has always been a duality of either flute OR oboe, but trying to care and maintain both requires someone with a lot of money and patience.
Do you have experience doubling? How do you manage transitioning between instruments – let me know in the comments below!
For information on the composer, Sergei Prokofiev, and the general overview of the entire flute sonata (Op. 94) you should check out my analysis of the first movement before reading through the analysis of this movement. Understanding the background – including the conditions – Prokofiev was writing under will help inform the analysis of this movement:
IV. Allegro con brio (♩=112)
This is the final movement of the sonata, and comparatively has much more diverse and virtuosic material. The general form is a rondo (which can be more specifically narrowed down to Sonata Rondo form) which I’ll break down more in depth later. The main characteristic of a rondo is the repetition and recycling of the ‘A’ material. Generally speaking, a rondo in its most simple layout can be reduced to ABACA. The development of the ‘A’ section is up to the composer and in this case Prokofiev demands more virtuosity from the performer with each recap of the ‘A’ section.
Let’s compare what sonata rondo form looks like (generally) as well as how Prokofiev adapts this form in the fourth movement:
The key difference between these two models if Prokofiev’s repetition of the A and B before the C section is stated. However, remember that in Sonata form the Exposition can be repeated; sometimes you may see this when the length of the exposition is shorter than the combined development and recapitulation. I regard Prokofiev’s decision to include the A’ and B’ sections before the ‘development’ or C was used to this effect especially considering the slowness/major character shift that makes the C section feel much longer than the lively allegro ‘A’ section we hear interspersed throughout the fourth movement.
To make sense of what we are seeing in the diagrams let’s break down what defines each section – in particular look at the model for Prokofiev’s adaptation in dark grey we see one of the links to sonata form is the use of sections with the A and B parts: primary (1) theme, transitional theme, secondary (2) theme, and closing theme.
‘Exposition’ – A: primary and transitional themes
The first theme spans m. 1-16 and is in DM (both the first movement and fourth movement are centered around the same tonic, D). It is characterized by a pickup of four 32nd notes that has an upbeat, lively rhythm such as the arpeggiated 16th note triplets – as well as the other 16th triplet figures – eighths and embellishments (such as the one 16th two 32nds and the dotted eighth sixteenth).
While the opening is in DM, 6 measures in the theme is transposed down a whole step into C – however, Prokofiev quickly takes a detour in m. 8 (the 3rd bar of the transposition) which takes us to this G#-G-G# 16th triplet figure. He does so route us back to D Major; in m. 9 we are still in C, but by oscillating between G-G# he is able to fill in the Major 2nd (a whole step) back to D as he finally does in m. 12 on beat 3. He gives as an exact copy of the opening theme to springboard us into the transitional theme.
The transitional theme spans m. 17-29, still in DM and ends with a HC – AM (V). This theme presents a new rhythm with the driving 16th notes especially in the ta di-mi rhythm on a low D4 which appears first in m. 17 and then again in m. 21.
We also see a return of the 16th triplets.
And we see ambiguity to the tonal center. In m. 25 Prokofiev begins his DbM arpeggios on sixteenth notes, by m. 27 we have some dm arpeggios, and then a sequence of descending Major and minor 3rds which end with the half cadence on A.
‘Exposition’ – B: secondary and closing themes
The secondary theme spans m. 35-39 and is in AM (with some tonicizing of the new dominant E). This theme is completely new material the syncopated rhythm (SLS) with large intervals and arpeggiated grace notes.
The closing theme is a bit of a misnomer since similar to the primary theme it does a recap that is reminiscent of ternary form. This theme spans m. 40-53 and starts in f#m (the relative minor to A) and ends in AM. There are steady eighth notes with four 16th notes that pickup into the next phrase group.
We can establish the f# more solidly when we consult the piano score:
Repetition of the Exposition – A’ and B’
Prokofiev made the choice to extend the ‘exposition’ of this sonata rondo form with truncated versions of the primary theme, transitional theme, and secondary/closing theme.
What is absent from A’? The D Major 16th triplet arpeggio in m. 60 into 61 is in a bar of 2/4 (NOT 4/4) and does not take us into C as the opening did. We are taken directly to the transitional material sans the grace not flourishing, this version goes straight into the 16th triplets, DbM arpeggios, and descending 3rds.
And what about B’? There is just one subtle difference in the flute material which is the final sixteenth of m. 71 being changed to a G-natural (originally a G3) as the flute transitions down to F rather than up to A.
The transition into the development is set up by the piano’s eighths that establish the new key – originally the piano is giving us downbeat Fs in the left hand before leaning into the instability with first inversions (A-C-F) with A being the lowest note in both hands.
‘Development’ – C
The material being ‘developed’ is very clearly the material from the B theme – characterized by the steady eighths and the group of 4 pickups – Prokofiev uses various techniques to make the theme more robust/complex such as varying rhythms, new tonal areas, and adding piano interjections.
There can be many arguments made for what Prokofiev is tonicizing/modulating in this development however there are pillars that I think are solid (and would generally be recognized) these are as follows:
F – m. 87
Ab – m.107
F# – m. 116
In the diagram at the top of the post, I gave some further tonal areas that I believe Prokofiev plays around with:
F – m. 72-86
(C) as the dominant of F there are short motives interspersed throughout the C section
g which is the dominant of c, with a lowered 3rd… however this could be argued to be an extension of the C/dominant
A – a whole step up from g, as well as, the 3rd of F
m. 92-94 – plus the pedal C is used to modulate into other tonal areas with that common note
(C) again m. 95-97
And a combo of both C and G (the dominant and secondary dominant)
Ab – m. 107-110
Db – the predominant which is leading us up to when Prokofiev changes the key to reflect D (however he is using it in it’s parallel minor b)
F# (mostly likely being used a dominant within bm to end in a HC before the recapitulation)
From key change to bm, F# is already being established as the dominant m. 113-121
‘Recapitulation’ – A” B” A”’
When A” is restated there is a demand for more virtuosity – the sections of the primary theme are transposed up an octave. Likewise parts of the transitional theme are transposed down an octave. Rather than ending solidly there is a slow quarter note ascension to the secondary theme in the tonic (D Major). A” spans m. 120-143.
As per sonata form, the recapitulation is solidly in the tonic/home key (both A and B sections, whereas in the exposition the B section is a new tonal area). That being said, B” presents the secondary/closing theme in D major – transposed up a m6. Prokofiev also switches up the order that he presents this material: rather than starting with the syncopations and grace note arpeggios, he starts with the steady eighths and pickup four 16ths and THEN goes to the syncopation and arpeggiated graces in DM. B” spans m. 145-160.
The final statement of A”’ begins in m. 161; has a fake out opening that like A” is partially transposed up the octave before repeating and moving into completely new material that is mainly flashy flourishes to demonstarte ultimate virtuosity.
What do you think of this final movement? And what do you think of the Sonata as a whole? Let me know in the comments!
The challenge with this piece has been playing what’s on the page versus playing in a stylized manner (as many recordings of this piece often exemplify). The technical elements such as the sept-tuplets, 32nd note pickups, or double tonguing in the 1st movement require a practice approach that will make the end result sound seamless or effortless.
Sergei Prokofiev – Sonata in D op. 94
This edition includes both the violin transcription along with the flute line – being aware that there are variations (and other editions of the piece) was really important when studying and listening to the piece before practicing. The infamous D7s are just one of the challenges this piece presents where the goal is for them to blend into the ascending arpeggio pattern.
Katherine Hoover – Kokopeli for solo flute
With no indicated meter and no accompaniment the challenge with this piece is maintaining rhythmic values. As well as keeping an active ear for intonation, especially on repeated pitches. And finally keeping a sharp eye on the accidentals since they do not carry through the octave. Despite these initial challenges, the phrasing and overall mood of the piece drive the player to overcome these visual hurdles.
W.A. Mozart – Concerto in D Major for flute (K. 314)
Mozart has 2 concertos for flute – one in G Major and this one, in D Major (which is really just a re-voicing of the oboe concerto in C). This Barenreiter edition is great for analysis and understand the solo flute’s role – it includes the principal flute part, piano score, suggested cadenzas, and a reference score.