17 Nov 2015

Dalbavie – Concerto for Flute

Marc-André Dalbavie (b. 1961): Concerto for Flute

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons; 4 horns, 3 trumpets; timpani, bass drum, gong, marimba, tam tam, xylophone, chimes, crash cymbals, vibraphone; strings

Performance Time: 18 minutes


Composer Marc-André Dalbavie’s affinity for the flute has found a muse in Emmanuel Pahud, to whom he dedicated his flute concerto in October 2005. It was commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic and the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra.

Born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, Dalbavie began music lessons at age six. After studying at the Paris Conservatory (1980-86), where he received several first prizes, he spent five years as part of the musical research department at IRCAM, the distinguished French organization for research and coordination in the study of modern music. From 1987 to 1988, he studied conducting with Pierre Boulez. He is currently professor of orchestration at the Paris Conservatory and composer in residence with the Cleveland Orchestra.

What to Listen For

Dalbavie’s compositional style, which is sometimes categorized as “spectral,” has found wide appeal through its remarkable coloristic effects. Starting in 1982, he and other composers of his generation became interested in the potentials of spectral music, particularly those offered by timbre and processing. He enhanced these techniques with polyphonic and rhythmic techniques (speed, metrics…), also developing formal principles of recurrence, integrating heterogeneous and spatial phenomena through his usage of electronics, as well as employing music and acoustic computer programs.

Describing his work in a National Public Radio interview, the Cleveland Orchestra’s assistant conductor James Gaffigan said, “He’s brilliant with colors and rhythms. You don’t know where he’s going. Sometimes [the soloist] takes a back seat…sometimes [the soloist] is just playing scales. Sometimes the orchestra is in the background. It’s almost minimalist. Such beautiful ideas.”