Phonograms for flute and chamber orchestra
The very instrumentation can well attract listeners’ attention. Solo flutes including a piccolo and an alto are accompanied by four keyboard instruments played by two musicians – celesta, harpsichord, harmonium and piano – and as many as 15 percussion instruments including two gongs, tubular bells, hand and cowbells, flexatone, vibraphone and xylorimba. It’s a line-up as colourful and attractive as that of Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles... and of Miles Davis’ electric combos with their extensive percussion batteries and another work by Penderecki, the Partita for concertante harpsichord, electric guitar, bass guitar, harp, double bass and chamber orchestra – and also as colourful as Paul Klee’s art, which provided the formal inspiration for this work.
Phonograms, like Dimensions of
Time and Silence, can hardly be analysed in traditional musical terms. If
this piece is referred to as a little concerto, it is only a genre label, not a
description of form. It is also disputable whether the flute can be viewed as a
concertante instrument here. The soloist slowly takes position in front of the
other chamber musicians, and when clicking the valves, breathing out or playing
frullato (with a characteristic
“frr”), the solo part melts into that of the orchestra. It is only the solo
cadenza that lets the solo flute sound with its full voice. Even then, the flutist’s
display has more to do with the “musical” paintings of Klee that with any model
of a solo cadenza. In this case, transforming Penderecki’s customary colourful
diagram into a musical score did not require any special form of transposition.