Review of Forgetmenot. The CD can be find on Amazon

Revista MUZICA Nr. 1 / 2016

Eva WienermNew York, NY, USA

Compact Disc Reviews: Flute Music of Violeta Dinescu



Ion Bogdan Ştefănescu, flute

Gutingi 246 (2012)


In the past few years, renowned Romanian composer Violeta Dinescu has issued two CDs of her music for flute: Forgetmenot (Gutingi 246 [2012]) and Flutes Play (Gutingi 254 [2015]).


The fine Romanian flutist, Ion Bogdan Ştefănescu, a specialist in the performance of Dinescu’s music, performs all of the works on the two CDs, which span a thirty-one year period, from 1980 to 2011.

Forgetmenot presents a collection of eleven works for flute, piccolo, dizi and kazoo. Flutes Play is a cycle of ten interrelated works. Six lengthy pieces, Flutes Play I-VI, composed for multiple flutes, are realized through overdubbing. They frame four shorter works, scored for solo flute. Forgetmenot opens with Circuit I for piccolo, the first of six sections of Circuit (2003), a work dedicated to Ştefănescu. It features a dialogue between the piccolo and the human voice, represented by audible breaths and vocal sounds. The two are linked through flutter-tonguing and other flute articulations. Dinescu explores the highest register of the piccolo. She presents a fleeting passage in harmonics, motives that recall birdsong, and microtonal pitches reminiscent of the timbres of a folkloric flute. This is music that displays a primeval intensity of expression.

Immagini for concert flute (1980) is the first of five works, stylistically similar to Circuit, which are presented in alternation with the sections of Circuit on the CD. In Immagini, Dinescu contrasts lyrical music in the low to mid-register of the flute with frenzied music, characterized by flutter-tonguing and overblowing, in the highest, shrillest register of the instrument.The material is often melismatic and microtonal. The work opens and concludes with lyrical motives. The liner notes state that Dinescu employs a “flexible notation” in this score toencourage creativity on the part of the performer, including the “reorganizing” of “rhythmic unities according to one’s own ideas.”

Circuit II for alto flute presents a colorful musical landscape in which extended techniques play a prominent role. At one point, a whistling sound punctuates the texture. Circuit II opens and concludes with sustained pitches that evolve coloristically before fading away. Pointillistic and melismatic material, tinged with modality, flow into breathy gestures. Dinescu isolates intervals to create tremolos and repetitive motives that resemble stylized birdsong. She also transforms some of the motivic material into short recurring modal tunes. Dinescu presents apassage in harmonics, more extended than that in Circuit I. This passage links the two sections, as does the reintroduction of a contrasting motive from Circuit I. At the climax of the structure, Dinescu combines all of the material in a contrapuntal exchange between the higher and lower registers of the instrument.

Doru for concert flute (1992) is a dramatic work characterized by pitches in the flute’s highest register articulated with sharp attacks, tremolos, melismatic passages and the microtonal bending of sounds.

In Circuit III for dizi (an ancient Chinese bamboo flute) and kazoo, Dinescu creates a sharp contrast between the two instruments. The music for dizi is meditative, with microtonality intrinsic to its delicate tone production. The music for kazoo is playful, with a rough-edged intonation. The kazoo brings an unexpected folk element to Circuit: a new version of the second motive of Circuit II, with astrong beat, accentuated by finger snaps and foot tapping. There is a clear link between the buzzing of the kazoo and the flutter-tonguing in other sections of Circuit. Spoken sounds and breaths in Circuit III recall Circuit I.

Le Double Silence for bass flute (1995) was inspired by Albert Camus’ L’Étranger (The Stranger). Dinescu creates an otherworldly atmosphere through her use of vibrato, sharp attacks, multiphonics and tremolos. She also employs overblowing in a manner that produces an array of harmonics.

Circuit IV for concert flute reintroduces motives from Circuit I and Circuit II. Harmonics become a dominant feature in IV, evoking the twittering of birds. In addition, vocal sounds take on a more aggressive character than earlier in the cycle.

In Immaginabile for piccolo (1993), the opening gesture is a stylized version of the twittering of a bird. Dinescu explores the full range of the piccolo, with much attention given to the highest register. Her use of this register at very loud dynamic levels displays a raw energy. By way of contrast, the composer introduces lyrical arabesque-like motives.

In Circuit V for bass flute, Dinescu continues to transform motives introduced in earlier sections of the work by employing multiphonics and harmonics. The flutist uses a technique that enables him to simultaneously play and “sing” motives in unison, giving the impression that he is humming into the flute while playing. At times, the flute plays harmonics one octave higher than the vocal pitch. Dinescu creates a progression throughout Circuit with her treatment of vocal sounds and flute pitches; originally distinct entities, they meld

together in Circuit V.

Forgetmenot for piccolo, concert flute, and bass flute (2011) gives the CD its title. The name of the piece refers to a family of flowers. The melodic contours of the opening motive of Forgetmenot are reminiscent of Romanian folk music. Microtonally bent pitches dominate the texture, along with turn figures and oscillating thirds. Dinescu also evokes the sound of ancient Asian flutes. Portions of the work are characterized by shrill tones and overblowing, and the sound of the performer’s breath is an intrinsic component of the music. As in Circuit V, vocal sounds, produced by extended flute techniques, sometimes accompany the flute’s pitches. Following an outburst for the piccolo in its highest register, Dinescu creates a strong timbral contrast by introducing the bass flute. The work ends with the decay of a microtonally bent pitch.

Circuit VI for piccolo, concert flute, alto flute, bass flute, dizi, and kazoo serves as a grand finale for Circuit and the CD. Several of the motives from the other sections of Circuit return, often presented simultaneously through digital overlay. Dinescu produces the effect of a wind ensemble, bringing the work to an exciting conclusion.