North Bridge Flute Academy


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Fauré – Berceuse
Oginski – Polonaise
Fauré – Sicilienne
Telemann – Sonata in F
Marais – Le Basque
Quantz – Sonata in E minor – Vivace
Delibes – Morceau de Concours


Telemann Air a l'Italien
Donjon – Pan
Fauré – Morceau de Concours
Hoffmeister – Sonata in G – 1st Mvt, Allegro Assai
Gaubert – Madrigal
Rabboni - Sonata (No. 3) in E
CPE Bach - Allegro from Sonata in E Minor
Rabboni – Sonata (No. 8) in C
Gossec – Tambourin


Rabboni – Sonata (No. 7) in F
Roussel – Mr. de la Pejaudie


Roussel – Pan


GRADE 6, Lesson #5
Performance Video: Philippe Gaubert - Madrigal

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GRADE 6, Lesson #5
Teaching Notes Video: Philippe Gaubert - Madrigal

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Not only was Philippe Gaubert (1879-1941) one of the most recognised flute players of his time in France, but he was also highly regarded as both a fine conductor and a prolific composer. His flute works dating back to the first part of the 20th Century are among some of the finest compositions for the instrument.

Gaubert was one of the pillars of the French Flute School (founded from 1860 onwards by among others Paul Taffanel, his teacher) and a pioneer of the Boehm system Flute (incidentally, his Louis Lot is numbered 1986 and I own No. 1984, also from 1873). This was also a period of great note for flute players studying at the Paris Conservatoire and a time when every year a new work for flute was commissioned for the students to play in their graduation recitals. The Boehm system flute was recognised for its superiority over previous attempts at flute design, not merely for its thought through mechanism, tone hole size and placing, bore etc, but also for its quality of tone, in particular in the bottom octave.

The Madrigal was first published in 1908 (the same year the ‘Concours’ piece at the Paris Conservatoire was Prélude et Scherzo by Busser) which was also the final year of Taffanel’s tenure as Head of the Flute department there.

Similar to many other compositions such as those by Debussy, Fauré and Ravel, much of Madrigal explores the sensuality of sound that can be obtained in the bottom octave of the flute. However, this in turn presents the performer with some awkward moments, in particular in the department of intonation!


To sustain the opening melody, we are required to take a breath that is far greater than we imagine necessary. I breathe slowly for a whole bar before launching myself into the piece. As the music is both slow and legato, it is essential to play with a good intensity of air stream. This will also help pitch, which in these opening bars is naturally inclined to dip to the flat side.

In Bar 6, be very careful to play the E on the second beat in tune. On all flutes, this note is naturally flat, so we will require a combination of quicker air and a slight lifting upwards of the air column to give this note convincing intonation. It is a question of timbre as well. If we make no alterations, not only does the E sound flat, but it also has a tendency to lack life.

Throughout Bar 7 and into Bar 8, the music travels from a very comfortable area of the instrument to the lowest end of the flute, which is less audible and more difficult to control. To this extent, try making a slight decrescendo throughout the last two beats of Bar 6. Starting Bar 7 more with more of a ‘P’ dynamic, will give you room to open out your sound in the scale on the way down to Bar 8. A gentle vibrato will also help to keep your sound more alive.

With all your efforts to keep the bottom octave in tune throughout Bars 7 and 8, we in turn should be aware that it is also very easy to play the C# in the second beat of Bar 9 too sharp! Once again, this is a naturally sharp note on all flutes, not simply in pitch but also in timbre. To address both these complexities, you might like try to approach this note, making sure that your throat is as relaxed and open as possible (as though you are yawning slowly and gently). Try also to aim your more downwards into the chimney of the mouth piece/lip plate.

In the upbeat to Bar 23, the music moves forward a little. Be aware that the two semi-quaver (16th note) upbeats are also played by your pianist, so you will need to have good communication with her or him at this point.

This brings me to another point of discussion. Too many flute players incorrectly assume that when they play a piece such as this, the piano part is merely accompaniment. Therefore, it is up to the pianist to adapt to the wishes and whims of the flute player. They couldn’t be more incorrect. If another human being is involved, then they too are allowed to bring musical input into the collaboration. Madrigal (and numerous other works for this combination of instruments) is a duo for flute and piano, where both performers share the creative process. Try not to treat your pianist as a mere accessory!

The ‘Un peu plus vite’ section should be played with joy and freshness. This, and similar passages further on are ideal places to add a little lemon juice and effervescence to your playing!

From Bar 38 through to Bar 51, much of the material in the flute part lies in the top octave. For good fluidity and depth of sound lips need to be relaxed and fingers should glide over the keys, feeling their way through the phrases. If the fingers are stiff or aggressive, this will be transmitted through the flute and on into the musical line.

Likewise, the ‘Plus Vite” in Bar 51, although quicker needs to maintain that level of calm and tranquillity which has been created so far.

The phrase in Bars 66 and 67 should come across as a distant memory.

The final warning triangle area in the work happens from Bar 71 to the end of the piece. My natural instinct is to breathe after the first crotchet of Bar 71, thus giving me sufficient air to keep the pitch up to the very end of the piece. Clearly, it is going to be challenging to play this rising phrase, with diminuendo, in tune. Once again, a gently more intense air stream and a slight lifting up of the air column will help. It would also be worth playing these final three bars into a tuning machine. This will at least give you an idea as to how flat it is possible to sound here and also a guide as to what will be physically necessary to keep the pitch correct.

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