THE FUGUE THAT FLEW AWAY
The piece was composed as a ‘tongue in cheek’ statement. A contradiction? Yes; the piece itself is a contradiction - a juxtaposition of opposing yet allied forces.
The composer attempts to reconcile an Avante Garde work for flute and piano with a traditional Baroque form like Fugue. There is naturally a concentration on the contrapuntal and linear aspects, an influence which came directly from the Zaidel-Rudolph’s studies with Gyorgy Ligeti in Hamburg in 1974/75. It is also an attempt to reconcile the timbre of a wind instrument, whose duration and sound depends on the ongoing breath, as opposed to the fast decaying sound of the piano as a ‘percussion’ instrument. Tone colour and blending is an important aspect of the piece.
The piece begins with an ‘ad lib’ slow Introduction - almost Prelude-like, but with fugal treatment. The "free" treatment in this Introduction highlights the shape of the fugal subject and links up the "plucked" notes (1,2 and 8,9) on the piano with the ‘flutterzunge’ notes on flute (also 1,2 and 8,9). It is a resonant legato Introduction written in proportional notation.
The subject is announced alone in piano, the end note being the beginning of the answer (i.e. a 5th above) and the last note of the answer (G) becoming the first note of the subject (or 2nd answer). The original note is not returned to. The subject itself contains 11-notes plus 1 note link, which sounds like a 12-note row but is not (repetition of 3 notes A, C, C#) - the sound-world created is instead freely atonal and suspended in time. The rhythm is determined by the graphic interaction of the two instruments. An identifiable counter-subject accompanies first the flute, then the piano (also a 5th up).
The fugue proper begins with the 6/4 section in strict metre. The free-flowing subject of the Introduction is now regimented into a strict rhythmical structure with large leaps and jagged and sharp gestures.
The piano leads, the flute following at an unconventional distance of a tone up (the 5th relationship no longer exists). It now displays a relentless, driving force, again with its own counter-subject repeated in the flute. The 3rd entry in piano (bar 3, pg. 2) is now yet another tone higher (Eb) with a rhythmic shift, i.e. now on the 2nd crotchet, so the whole emphasis changes.
The left hand of the piano is in Augmentation (long note values) beginning on D (bar 3 of 6/4) while the right hand plays an augmented version of the counter-subject. In bar 5, a Stretto occurs with the flute entering with the subject beginning on Ab against the piano, now on the 4th beat of the bar.
The flute becomes the ‘leader’ with the (Ab) subject inverted, followed by the answer a semitone lower (G) also inverted - the counter-subject is undergoes inversion and extension (bending convention). In bar 7 the counter-subject is augmented in the flute.
An episode follows (8/9) with free imitative material derived from the counter-subject. In bar 11, the piano reintroduces subject material (i.e. ‘correct’ intervals) but in a totally different rhythmic structure, as well as in unison with both hands, with a rather ‘cheeky’ counterpoint in the flute.
After a couple more ‘subject’ entries, the real meaning of the piece (game) becomes clear. The flute tires of the restrictions and impositions of the form and starts to break away from the restraint by using material in a free way from bar 16 heralding the calmer section that follows. The piano obviously ‘disapproves’ and reiterates the last few notes of the subject to bring the flute ‘back into line’. But the flute is enjoying its freedom and goes into a brilliant Cadenza. The piano lodges its objection with aggressive tremolandi, but to no avail. So the piano retaliates and launches into a brilliant Cadenza of its own.
From page the last page, the fugue form has disintegrated and the flute and piano assert their own independence with very dissimilar material. There is a feeling of ‘winding down’ and ultimately a feeling of resignation that the fugue has ‘fallen to pieces’ and with a final gesture of disdain in the flute (G-B , G-Bb) it finally ‘flies away’.
To sum up: - The piece parodies a strict form, namely the fugue, being able to ‘take wings and fly away’.