Brandon Patrick George, flutist of the Grammy-nominated Imani Winds, releases his first solo album with Haenssler Classics on September 18th, 2020. Spanning three hundred years of music history, Flute Sonatas and Solo Works marks the debut of a major artist with a diverse repertoire and a bold approach to five monumental works for his instrument.
Equally at home in Baroque and contemporary repertoire, George describes his album as “a dialogue between the past and the future.” Recorded in collaboration with pianists Steven Beck and Jacob Greenberg, the program documents not only George’s intellectual preoccupations and virtuoso playing but also his commitment to musical storytelling and richly emotive playing.
Moving from the bravura summits of J.S. Bach’s Partita in A minor, BWV 1013 to the daring rhythms of Pierre Boulez’s Sonatine for Flute and Piano, the opening tracks encapsulate both George’s virtuosity and his fascination with the historical conversation between composers. As George notes, even while Boulez abandons traditional tonality and movement structure, he embeds echoes of sonata form within one continuous piece. Kalevi Aho’s Solo III likewise looks back to the multiple voices of Baroque counterpoint, at the same as it places very modern technical demands upon the player. George has recorded this piece using the celebrated platinum flute that Verne Powell created for the 1939 World’s Fair, taking advantage of its wide dynamic range and tone color to capture the extremes of Aho’s composition. The album concludes with Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata op. 94 in D major for flute and piano, a neo-classical composition written in the midst of World War II that continues the conversation between past and present in one of the composer’s most life-affirming works.
As a child in Dayton, OH, George recalls pressing his face against a pawnshop window to catch a glimpse of a flute on display. His fascination with the instrument led him to study at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College under Michel Debost, before receiving further training in Paris with Sophie Cherrier. He received his Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where he won the Concerto Competition and subsequently appeared as soloist in C.P.E. Bach’s Flute Concerto in D Minor.
George has performed with many of the world’s leading ensembles including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). He has been hailed by The New York Times as “the elegant Brandon Patrick George,” as a “virtuoso” by The Washington Post, and called a “knockout musician with a gorgeous sound” by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Since 2018, he has been the flutist of Imani Winds, succeeding founder Valerie Coleman, in a role that allows him to combine his passion for contemporary music with his dedication to advocacy for musicians of color.
Johann Sebastian Bach, Partita in a minor for solo flute BWV 1013 1. Allemande
4. Bourée Angloise
5. Sonatine Steven Beck, piano
Kalevi Aho, Solo iii 6. Quarter note=66 7. Presto 4:45
Sergei Prokofiev, Sonata for flute and piano Op. 94 8. Moderato
9. Allegretto Scherzando
Jacob Greenberg, piano
A few interesting flute facts from Brandon Patrick George: Even though this is a modern flute debut, I prepared the Bach on baroque flute, only practicing modern flute a few days before the recording. I wanted to bring those qualities to my modern playing. So, the articulations I use, tempi, breaths for phrasing, etc, were all transferred to my modern flute playing and are very much intentional. The other fact is that I’ve had the good fortune of playing many excellent flutes over the years, and the famous platinum Powell #365 is no exception. When the instrument was first loaned to me around the time of my recording, I thought of how best to try it out, like test driving a new car on the open road. I settled on Kalevi Aho’s very demanding Solo iii, because it allowed me to find infinite tone colors, exploring the instrument’s most expressive, lyrical qualities, as well as tackle the extreme technical demands of the presto. I’m happy that flutists will be able to hear this flute on September 18!