Flute Concerto, Op.51
Jacques Hétu: Born in Trois-Rivières, August 8, 1938; died in Saint-Hippolyte (near St. Jerome), died in Quebec, February 9, 2010
Jacques Hétu’s catalogue is particularly distinguished by a large number of concertos, many of them for instruments that do not ordinarily get a chance to enjoy such attention (the guitar, organ, ondes Martenot, bassoon and trombone, among others). There are also concertos for flute, oboe/English horn, clarinet, horn (the Sérénade héroïque), two for piano and several concertos for multiple instruments. The Flute Concerto was commissioned by the NAC Orchestra and dedicated to Robert Cram, who was soloist in the world premiere conducted by Victor Feldbrill on February 26, 1992. The composer writes:
“The concerto is essentially lyrical due to the predominance of melody and harmonic and tone colors, but it nevertheless maintains a strict discipline in its structural organization. The unity of the work emanates from the constant variation of its basic elements and their interaction from one movement to the next in transformations derived from cyclical processes. In other words, these elements of style could be defined as neoclassical forms and neoromantic expression in a language using techniques of the twentieth century, in particular the use of chromaticism together with a certain post-impressionist color. The composer’s description, paraphrased runs as follows:
The first movement alternates between moderato and allegro tempos, exposing and developing elements that are in turn calm and rapid, similar to the bithematic sonata form.
The second movement is an Adagio in three sections (ABA). The flute’s song is accompanied by a muted trumpet in the first section while the central section, which begins with flute arabesques around the solo violin, evolves towards an intense and dramatic tutti. In the third section, the melody of the flute returns, accompanied by the other woodwinds.
The third movement is a rondo marked Vivace, where the thematic elements of previous movements undergo new metamorphoses to “burst” into music that is dancelike in nature.