Flute (doubling Piccolo and Alto Flute), Oboe (doubling English Horn) and Piano
Duration: ca. 9 minutes
Publisher: C. F. Peters Corporation, Edition Peters 67675
The first [work on the program] was best: A Consuming Fire (1995) by New York composer Hayes Biggs, a tightly constructed nine-minute trio for flute, oboe and piano. It was clear that this was a composer who understands that harmonic motion, even in an atonal work, is crucial to creating expectation. The opening progression informed us of the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic world of the piece. As the work unfolded through its three main parts and coda (fast—slow—fast—slow), expectations were constantly created, then fulfilled or denied.
In the fast sections of A Consuming Fire, harmonic progressions were repeated enough to become familiar, then, at just the right moment, led to new and unexpected territory. In the contrapuntal middle section and coda, interval patterns and phrase lengths were carefully established, then subtly changed. This kept the listener involved at all times in this work of remarkable clarity and expressivity.
A Consuming Fire, a short, zesty trio by Hayes Biggs, led off the evening. The piece is framed by some engagingly angular rhythmic writing, with a lyrical nougat at the center.