Recitative & Air (1883) for flute & piano

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MACFARREN, Sir George Alexander (1813 - 1887)
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  • Instrumentation: flute & piano
  • Difficulty Level: advanced [ UK grade 7 -8]
  • Duration: cca. 6:40
  • Genre: English Romantic (1883)
  • Format: Printed sheet music or digital PDF [17 pp]
  • Extras: mp3 play-alongs [10 MB]

Fun to play music from the English Mendelssohn. Macfarren's interest in opera comes across in this lively piece. A declamatory opening recitative gives way to an air of two contrasting parts - a delicate theme in the manner of an operatic aria followed by a lively somewhat dramatic section. It was first published in 1883 in the journal of the 'London Society of Amateur Flute Players'. Attached to it was a note from the editor, stating that a performance of the work given by the society to an audience of almost 2,000 people had 'thoroughly fixed the attention of the large audience. Every movement was appreciated, the lower notes of the slow air especially telling out with singular roundness and beauty'.

Sir George Alexander Macfarren, the English Mendelssohn, was an English academic and composer, famous in his day and knighted by Queen Victoria for his services to music. He was also Principal of the Royal Academy of Music, Professor of Music at Cambridge University, and a friend of Mendelssohn, with whom he shared a similar compositional style. Sadly, Macfarren had been troubled with eyesight problems from a young age and was completely blind by the time that he composed the Recitative and Air, and had to rely on the services of an amanuensis.