The Way Things Go (2006) by Richard Festinger
for flute and piano

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.

— R. F.