Flute Concerto in D major, op. 283
solo flute, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, percussion, strings
I. Allegro molto moderato
II. Lento e mesto
Composed 1908. First performance: March 15, 1909, Leipzig. Maximilian Schwedler, flute.
Notes by Katherine Baber
Carl Reinecke met the Schumanns and Mendelssohn when he passed through Leipzig during his early travels as a conductor and piano soloist, and he was apparently warmly received. By 1860, he would find his home there with an appointment at the Leipzig Conservatory and eventually the directorship of the Gewandhaus Orchestra, which had premiered Schumann’s First Symphony. Like Mendelssohn, he was fond of Bach’s music and even of earlier composers, like Palestrina, but he shared more romantic traits with Schumann, particularly in his handling of orchestral color. The melodies of the Flute Concerto are closer to Mendelssohn, but the prominence of the trumpet and trombone and the overall scale of some of passages are closer to Schumann’s orchestral tone of voice. The first movement, while offering plenty of virtuosic opportunities, is also remarkably conversational. There is call and response between flute and brass and a number of obbligato pairings of the soloist with various members of the orchestra. The slow movement, Lento e mesto, is darker than we might have expected, beginning with tentative low strings and ominous chords in the horns. The opening statement from the soloist is solemn, and the following duet for flute and cello turns mournful. By its climax, the movement is filled with pathos on a symphonic scale, although the extended closing section provides the soloist time to wind down the emotional tension for a peaceful close. After an odd beginning in the minor mode—a last passing harmonic cloud—the orchestra lets the soloist lead the way in the third movement. Again and again, the flute stirs the brass and strings into dramatic swells of harmony and texture that lead to a triumphant finale. Although Reinecke was not much younger than Mendelssohn or Schumann, he lived much longer—long enough to carry the sounds of romantic Leipzig into the twentieth century with this, his last concerto.