American Beauties: Winners at the NFA

To win at the NFA New Music Competition is a stellar achievement, so you can be sure that these pieces have true gold star quality.


Sarah Bassingthwaite: Amhran na hEascainne (Song of the Eel) for Solo Flute

This stunning piece for solo flute, which is based on an old Irish song, is immediately enticing. The free writing style is both mesmeric and improvisatory, and the drone simply enhances the colour. It’s a perfect piece in which to forget the troubles of the world. Difficulty Guide 8-9


Johann Gottfried Müthel: Sonata in D major for Flute and Piano

It’s lovely to find a work by a little-known composer that is so charming! All three movements are a joy to play. The opening Adagio has an almost improvisatory feel, the Allegro skips along with a mixture of stylish phrases and flurries of notes, and the closing Cantabile is a lyrical and elegant set of variations. Difficulty Guide 7-8


Daniel Dorff: Ballade for Alto Flute, Bass Flute and Piano

Daniel Dorff is at his best here, writing an easy-listening piece which works a treat on these two low flutes. Both instruments use their full ranges which makes it interesting to play as well as quite challenging, and the jazz-infused harmonies create a relaxed feeling that the accompaniment underpins beautifully. Difficulty Guide: 8


Gay Kahkonen: Los Caballos for Four C Flutes

Wind tones start this work, which describes the journey of group of wild horses across the open spaces of an American plain. As they come closer, the writing gains in intensity through increasingly complex textures. The intertwining of lines and underlying rhythmic drive increases its direction and volume before subsiding as the horses disappear into the distance and the wind tones return. This is a difficult piece to play well, but it’s very effective when you do. Difficulty Guide: 9


Manuel Ponce arranged by Hector Rodriuez: Gavota for Flute Choir

This is a gentle work by the Romantic Mexican composer Manuel Ponce, originally written for piano and now skilfully transcribed for flutes by Hector Rodriguez. A pretty melody is at the heart of the piece, and this is shared amongst the top instruments accompanied by simple arpeggios from the lower parts. The key of C major and nothing faster than quavers make the parts look appealing for the less experienced, and you don’t need a contrabass or even a bass to make this work. Lovely to look at and lovely to play. Difficulty Guide 5-7

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