Famous flute works: chamber music

The flute was the only wind instrument that Bach made use of in his chamber music works. Of these, his sonatas for flute and basso continuo, and his sonatas for flute and keyboard obbligato, can probably only be described (at least as far as flautists are concerned) as classics among the classics. The sonata in B minor cited here is a masterpiece in which the flute and harpsichord duel with one another in an intricate dialogue. The fact that Bach composed the work in a minor key, which sounded best with the flutes of the day, in tandem with Bach's craftsman-like compositional technique, showcase the distinctive characteristics of the flute.

This work is a quartet that Mozart composed in 1777 while he was staying in Mannheim, Germany, in response to a request from a surgeon named Ferdinand de Jean, who was a devotee of the flute. This is probably one of the most famous pieces of chamber music featuring the flute. Virtuoso passages that show off the characteristics of the instrument to best advantage are brilliantly interwoven with a typically beautiful Mozart melody. As well as counterpointing the flute, which has the principal role, the violin, viola, and cello also engage in full-blown dialogue with the flute at times. The second movement in B minor, in which the mysterious-sounding melody is resonantly played on the flute to a pizzicato accompaniment, is also completely captivating.

In 1910, during his twilight years, Debussy planned to compose six sonatas that combined various instruments. His death in 1918, after he had written just three of these sonatas, prevented the completion of his plans. With the harmonious phrasing of the innovative Debussy, the work appears to have been written in a relatively conservative style; however, the sound interwoven by the three completely different instruments has a unique quality to it. The movements (such as the first movement), in which the six motifs successively ebb and flow, are particularly memorable.