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Air in Motion (2019)

for flute and string quartet

Instrumentation:  flute and string quartet

Duration: 16 minutes


I.   Turning

II.  Canon on 50 notes

III. Air

IV. Pushing the Edge

Program Notes:

Air in Motion was commissioned for Carol Wincenc in celebration of her 50th anniversary season.  Carol’s playing inspired the piece and the title refers to the flute’s ability to generate beauty from the simple aspect of air moving through the instrument.  Throughout her career, Carol has constantly commissioned and presented new works, thus “pushing the edges” (see fourth movement) of the flute repertoire, and we all owe her a debt of gratitude for it.


The piece is in four contrasting movements.  The first movement is a short, fast, rhythmic prelude where the strings and flute echo each other’s changing rhythmic pulse (like mini metric modulations that turn on a dime).  The second movement is a canon on 50 notes (in honor of Carol’s 50th anniversary season).   The canon begins as a repeating ascending pattern which gradually changes over time.  The same canon appears later in slow motion and in different guises throughout the piece.  The third movement is an air, almost chant-like, with slowly evolving resonances and frozen time.  The fourth movement is pulse-oriented, with rhythmic and imitative motives passed between strings and flute, with slower interruptive events that always lead back to the rhythmic energy of the opening.


Air in Motion was premiered by Carol Wincenc and the Escher String Quartet on November 12, 2019, at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.

Copyright © Pierre Jalbert, Air in Motion

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