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Paul Taffanel (1844-1908)Opus 7 (1885)Edited by Edward Blakeman
From a musical point of view the Sicilienne-Etude is something of a manifesto. Taffanel seems to be saying that flute players must find a balance between two extremes - the circus and the salon. Having delivered the flute from mere virtuosity (circus acrobatics), he is equally determined that it should not fall into the comfortable trap of just playing pretty tunes (salon trifles). The flute is a lyrical and virtuoso instrument, but it belongs in the real world of late-19th century harmony, and it has more to say than can be expressed in just a simple melody or in showers of notes over a vamped piano accompaniment. So Taffanel turns both the salon and the circus upside down. He makes the flute embellish its own melodic line harmonically, and he reduces its scale passages to the status of an accompaniment to the melodic and harmonic part.