As pharaohs and mummies paraded down Main Avenue on Friday evening, a flutist playing in St. Mark's Episcopal Church, two blocks from the hubbub of the parade, provided a calm, warm oasis from the chaos. Rochelle Mann, former dean of arts, humanities and social sciences at Fort Lewis College, performed a flute recital.C. Scott Hagler accompanied her on piano and organ as they played to an attentive crowd of 70. Acknowledging the parking problem, Mann said she "was in denial," but otherwise the recital was a welcome alternative to Snowdown.
Although Mann performed six pieces, the signature music was "Undine," written by 19th century Danish composer Carl Reinecke. Though a prolific composer, with his compositions numbering nearly 300, Reinecke is relatively unknown. His sonata "Undine" stems from an era when the piano was the instrument of choice for romantic pieces.
Reinecke's selection of composing "a romantic piece for the modern flute, taking advantage of the instrument's range of dynamics, was a huge breakthrough," Mann explained as she introduced the music.
Based on German mythology, the piece tells a story of Undine, a water nymph who longed to be immortal. She begged Neptune to be able to fall in love with a mortal man, and, finally, Neptune relented with the caveat that if the man betrays her, she must kill him.
The first movement, "Allegro," sets the scene for the love story with the notes crashing like waves. "Intermezzo" has a fast, coquettish tempo and conjures up images of girls flirting, flitting and twirling. Deep notes on the organ introduce Undine's lover, a knight who rides on horseback.
A slow, melodic third movement, "Andante Tranquillo" tells the love story and the dramatic "Finale" starts as if the two might live happily ever after but transitions with low, foreboding notes, signaling the betrayal of the knight and his ultimate death.
Then Daniel Morgenstern served as narrator for "The Boston Wonder," written by Peter Schickele.
"Imagine a cartoon, like Pinocchio and his maker Geppetto, as this is a story of an animated flute." Morgenstern said.
The Boston Wonder was a flute made for students that had ornate engraving on its barrel. With less angst than the previous piece, the Boston Wonder was light and airy.
Next, Mann played Alan Hovhaness's "Sonata for Flute and Organ" noting that his composition style contains simple construction. She quoted him, saying, "Simplicity is difficult, not easy; complexity fades and only essence remains."
This quote aptly describes Mann's playing. She makes playing the flute look easy, even while tackling complex pieces. She performs with grace and ease, taking only miniature breaks between movements to gain her breath and focus, and speaks comfortably and spontaneously in front of a crowd.
Mann concluded with choral composer John Rutter's "Suite Antique," which she described as where a Baroque sonata meets "West Side Story," with Hagler switching between organ and piano before ending the 90-minute recital with a "Concertino" by Cécile Chaminade.
becker_K@fortlewis.edu - Karin L. Becker teaches composition at Fort Lewis College.