+61 411 026 182 eileen@theflautist.com

Concertino Opus 107

by Cecile Chaminade

Eileen Gilligan & Alex Raineri – Concertino Opus 107

This piece is one of my favourites for many reasons. It is like an epic romance novel. A massive romantic theme, lots of passion, flirtations and romantic dalliances in the technical passages and what ifs in section B. The recap is so warm , it wraps me up in love, romance and passion. This piece is a dream boat to play if you wish to tell a story and explore a big approach to tone and expression.

It was commissioned by Paul Taffanel for his students at the Paris Conservatoire but there is a story that she wrote it as a wedding present for her lover who left her for another woman. He was the principal flute player in the local orchestra and she apparently wrote it too hard for him to play.

How the player views this piece will predict the outcome of the performance. I don’t see it as a technical show piece but an epic expression of love. I also don’t feel there is any malice in the writing , there is so much warmth right from the first note it captivates me. The recap feels so much warmer than the opening for some reason.

I do think there is a bit of “stick this in your pipe and smoke it ” in the concluding Coda section where it takes off. Possibly this is where she expresses her dissatisfaction with him leaving her for another woman. If you wish to punish a flute player, ask them to play a FF low D at the end of this piece and not crack it. It won’t crack if your harmonics are in tune .It will land every time without fail.

The story is the players to tell, this is my story.

How do you prepare for this piece and how do the Melodious Studies and Tone Development relate to it.?

I think my low to middle register tonal quality and resonance came from the amount of time and focus I spent on Melodious studies and storytelling came from Tone Development. Every Aria or extract requires the player to wear a different hat and tell a story of the scene in the opera  etc ,so the Chaminade is just a big Tone Development.

The tone is everything in this piece and colour. Avoid letting the phrases not reach a powerful peak. Too often I hear them fall flat or be cut off. They are really powerful musically and the tone should rise with them. This requires opening up and resonating from the chest like a singer

https://youtu.be/RdTBml4oOZ8   Nessun Dorma Pavarotti. This Aria will demand you resonate from the chest or it will be thin and unimpactful. This is where is I developed the facility to put the power behind the climax phrases in the Chaminade

https://youtu.be/pPEwjzduHNQ   Eileen and Kathy Nessun Dorma

There is a great vocalise book by Roderick Seed , these are awesome as daily practice exercises . I play 1 , 2 and 3 every day and rotate the others . The Hommage to Poulenc is so good for the third register.

https://www.tetractys.co.uk/photo_17145974.html you can buy it here.

I think it is worthwhile practising Melodious Study no 22 with respect to the syncopated B section of the Chaminade It is a gruelling little study often performed flippantly but studied in detail will give awesome results. The video guide on the website goes into the detail needed on every note and every phrase. Once mastered you will never get a syncopation wrong again nor will you be musically unaware of what notes are important in a phrase. I have attached Moyse playing it. It is very detailed, bell tones and all. Fabulous!!!!!

You will know if you are resonating from the chest with Melodious Study No 2 variation 1. It will be thin and not project . You should hear your tone all around you. I have attached the Moyse sound file. You will notice there is no sound gap between the mezzo staccatos but they are not bell tones. The notes should live , every one of them. This will give you a good indication of your openness. Full guide is on the website.

It is important that technical passages mean something and say something musically. Avoid putting the accelerator pedal down and off to the race track we go. I see them as romantic flirtations and dalliances ,so that guides me on my expression and colour of them, also tempo. I try always to create a visual for the listener. The markings on the music are Moderato for the piece as a whole. Section B is more agitated and a little faster . The triplet section is A Tempo and it doesn’t give an indication for speed until the conclusion which is Presto. The other indications are always poco and piu , so not major changes. There is much subtlety in the markings and expression of this piece. I think it is important to consider what the composer wrote. .

I also listen to string players when playing a piece like this. I love the passion and depth of tone they get as well as the bowing and how that plays into expression. Here are some that inspired me for this piece.

https://youtu.be/pgHVFjFTmX0 Noah Bendix -Balgley – Amy Beach Romance- doesn’t get any better than this, just awesome..

https://youtu.be/OPhkZW_jwc0   Jacqueline du Pres – Elgar Cello Concerto- where passion meets music.

https://youtu.be/uAToCaU7_Jc   Steven Isserlis- Caesar Franck Allegro- Amazing musician.

These are just some. I tend not to listen to flute players with something like the Chaminade. Just my personal preference because I want everything the string players have to offer.

  • Depth of tone.
  • The expression the bowing brings.
  • A passion and colour to the tone we don’t have. There is a warmth that comes with great violin playing I want to have.
  • They don’t have to breathe , so they achieve a wonderful long musical line and expression.

On a technical note, I use the trill key for the D in the C-D sections in the A Tempo triplet section. As a matter of habit, I practice things like the Last Rose of Summer and Danny Boy in D major with the trill key for all D’s. So why not take the easy way out rather than flapping one’s fingers like a mad hatter.

Number 4 Melodious Study will be invaluable especially the variation with the up and over the head octaves. Will make the cadenza less stressful.

There are so many “Loves you’s” in this piece , Number 1 is a must . The articulation that comes with “I love you” is all the way through this piece.

Now for a bit on Cecile Chaminade:

French composer Amrboise Thomas said this of Chaminade: “This is not a woman who composes, but a composer who is a woman.” 

https://youtu.be/ev1vlIk1LXc   Chaminade played on saxophone. Lusciously romantic and expressive. This is a left field example for you to think about.

https://youtu.be/4__MnrLJ-DI   Cecile Chaminade playing her   “Feilles D’Automme”. Lots of other recordings on You Tube also to listen to.

https://www.oxfordlieder.co.uk/composer/166   Brief cover off about her.