Poem: Stereophile Cuts an LP The Musicians part 2

Lehnert: Why would you use a platinum flute instead of a silver, wooden, or gold flute?

Woodward: The sound and character of each of these flutes is very, very different. The platinum has a very solid core to the sound that I really like. Within that core there is also a vast flexibility—a myriad of colors that can be found, interesting colors that you don't find in a silver flute, or even a gold flute. Gold flutes are so popular these days; Rampal, of course, has played on his gold Haynes for so long, as has Galway.

Lehnert: Have you played a modern wooden flute at all?

Woodward: Yes. When you say a modern wooden flute—most of the examples I've seen date from the early part of the century. But they do have modern Boehm key systems. I've played a few, and an old Haynes wooden flute, and an old Rudall-Carte. They have a wonderful sound. I used wooden flute on one of the shows that I played. The wooden flute sounds more like a recorder. It's just a lighter sound, more like a baroque flute. They went to metal flutes because the orchestra just got too big for the light sound of the wooden flute.

Lehnert: You've given recitals here at USC which included the Prokofiev sonata. How did you decide on the music for these sessions?

Woodward: Well, these are pieces I've struggled with, gone to battle with, and loved practically my whole musical life. The first time I attempted the Prokofiev I was still in high school, and I've spent the last 15 years honing it and trying to find new levels of understanding. It's that kind of piece. Flutists are very fortunate to have the Prokofiev Sonata in our repertoire. It's such a monumental work. I chose the Reinecke "Undine" Sonata because it's one of the flute's few examples of full-blown Romantic music. It's odd that there's a huge gap in our repertoire in the Romantic period. There's no Brahms, just very little except for some contest pieces and soloistic, flashy pieces like that. Romantic composers were into clarinet and viola, and the flute at that time was still not the flute that we have today. Problems of intonation and of playing in extreme dynamics were not yet solved. They may have shied away because of those limitations.

Lehnert: I was amazed at the musical richness and seriousness of the Reinecke, which I'd never heard. Has it been recorded before?

Woodward: Yes, by Rampal and Aitken. It's a standard piece in our repertoire.

Lehnert: After the purely technical work of just getting the notes and fingerings right is over, what do you try to accomplish in performing a piece of music?

Woodward: I try to come to some understanding of what the composer was trying to express in a particular passage, and also to see what my feelings about that passage might be, then try to blend them together, and come up with something that would be Prokofiev/Woodward, Reinecke/Woodward, etc.

Lehnert: Is there a lot of transcribing in the flute repertoire?

Woodward: More and more, especially in the Romantic era—we're borrowing violin music more and more. My former teacher and professor of flute here, Roger Stevens, has really been culling the violin literature and has found all kinds of compositions by Mendelssohn, Strauss, and such composers that he's been able to work into the flute repertoire.

Lehnert: How do you play a double-stop?

Woodward: You either ignore it or you play an arpeggio!

Lehnert: Are you in a position to commission compositions? Do you know of composers writing more contemporary things for flute?

Woodward: It's just exploded in the last few years. The popularity of the flute is awesome, of course, with Rampal and Galway—our number-one ambassadors. And there are just reams of new material; it's almost overwhelming.

Lehnert: In other interviews that have appeared in Stereophile, cellist Ofra Harnoy and recorder-player Michala Petri have said that most of the music written for them is just dreck. Do you find that true of the new flute compositions?

Woodward: It will take some time to have perspective on a lot of this music. It is really difficult to say, at first glance, what of this modern music is good and what will survive the test of time.

Lehnert: I guess it's even harder for a player to know that; like so much Baroque music, much of the music for small groups of instruments is fantastic for the players, but is not necessarily intended to be listened to by anyone.