Concertino for Flute, op. 107
solo flute, flute/piccolo, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, harp, strings
First performance: 1902, Paris Conservatoire (written as an examination piece for students of Paul Taffanel).
With her Concertino for Flute, op. 107, Cécile Chaminade entered the ranks of the many esteemed (male) composers to have written a concours solo for the Paris Conservatoire. Others whose pieces were used for this famous end-of-year competition, which began in the mid-nineteenth century, included Fauré and Messiaen. Apart from a few early orchestral works—including a symphonie dramatique she called The Amazons—Chaminade was limited by societal expectations of women composers, writing mostly character pieces and mélodies. While not garnering the acclaim of “significant” works like concertos, symphonies, and operas, these pieces did sell extremely well in the print market and made her popular in England and the United States. Her striking use of instrumental colors and subtle wit are qualities she shares with her French contemporaries, but her harmonic palette is milder. Like the other works on this concert, her Concertino also features clear textures and shapely melodies, but Chaminade’s instinct for memorable tunes sets her apart and this is an example par excellence.