Flautino Concerto

About this work

Though often listed as a work for piccolo, this concerto can be, as the headnote indicates, played by a recorder or flute. The flautino, the instrument originally specified by Vivaldi, was a Baroque cousin of the recorder, but because the editor of this concerto's first published edition (from the 1950s), composer Francesco Malipiero, assigned it to the piccolo, it was generally performed by that instrument. Today, however, the recorder appears to be the instrument of choice by the work's exponents.

The concerto opens with a lively orchestral ritornello, after which the soloist enters with a display passage that dazzles with its rhythmic drive and virtuosic writing. Thereafter, the orchestra and soloist alternate, with the latter receiving sparse accompaniment from the former and the whole exuding delicate music that brims with joy and effervescence.

The second movement is a lovely Largo, dreamy and somewhat lonely in the main theme, introduced at the outset by the recorder (or piccolo). If the music calls to mind gray skies above a lonely whistler treading soggy earth, it at least consoles the heart with its soaring beauty and subdued scoring. While the soloist thoroughly dominates the middle panel, the orchestra returns to nearly equal footing in the finale, presenting the chipper main material right off. The recorder then takes up bits of the thematic goods, giving them an almost ecstatic treatment, the music bouncing and chirping, dazzling both ear and mind. Later on the soloist's writing turns even more colorful, with swirls of colorful sounds and notes tossed about athletically, leaving the listener breathless and in awe.