The Way Things Go

For flute and piano
Commissioned by Tara Helen O'Connor.
June, 25th 2011
The Salt Lake City Library Auditorium, Salt Lake City, Utah
Carlton Vickers, flute and Jed Moss, piano
  • Program Notes

    Completed in 2006, The Way Things Go is a virtuosic partnership between the flute and piano. The first movement is a theme followed by four variations. Encompassing two pairs of short, simple phrases, the movement’s theme emerges as classical in its structure and proportional balance. Its chromatically saturated harmonies offer a unifying background against which the variations unfold through changes of character (variation 4), figuration (variation 2) and phrase elongation (variation 3). The second movement, subtitled Recitative, preserves some remnants of the character, melodic contour and phrase structure of the first movement; but is, in fact, independent of the preceding variations, particularly in its harmonic language. The piano writing here explores some qualities of the octave as a sonority, both unadorned, and heard against narrow intervals, as in the movement’s introductory measures. The recitativo music in the flute incorporates quarter tones to heighten the plaintive expressive character. The form is ternary, the middle section gradually building in complexity, but rather than ending conclusively, the reprise leads directly into the finale, attacca. This last movement juxtaposes an extroverted, jocular, motoric music against fantastical, coloristic passages played fluttertongue by the flute, resolving the tautness of the preceding movements as it lifts itself to end in finding its own kind of tranquility.


  • Ralph Graves,

    “Standouts on the release include… the title track, The Way Things Go, by Richard Festinger, another O'Connor commission. This ultra-chromatic modernist work has a series of dramatic starts and stops, yet always moves inexorably towards its climaxes. The piece is a technical challenge for both performers, and O'Connor and Kampmeier own it.”

    – Ralph Graves Read Complete Review
  • Lynne S. Mazza

    “Instruments and playing technique change over time, consequently influencing the conceptions of what an instrument is and how it can sound. This broad collection offers a selection of works by contemporary composers that have significantly contributed the the flute repertoire and challenge ears and minds that have been conditioned to a set of historical precedents… The musical intensity, the shifting of stylistic gears, though classical in simplicity and texture, and the explorations of flute and piano sonorities provide timbral adventures and varying moods… combining sounds in ways unique, evocative and intriguing”

    – Lynne S. Mazza
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The Way Things Go: II. Recitative