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This is a highly programmatic piece for flute trio, loosely based around one of the Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales “Hansel and Gretel”. The first movement depicts the children wandering off into the dark forest, initially surrounded by twittering birds and sunlight, but as the movement progresses, the music becomes darker. As the light fades, the children strew breadcrumbs to guide their way out of the forest when they decide to return to the village. At letter C, the mysterious chords suggest something disturbing, perhaps trees with scare faces or giant spiderwebs. At D, the change to 3/4 time suggests the children are anxious and scurrying through the trees, feeling scared, with the use of flutter tonguing suggesting their shivers of fear. Finally, out of breath, they reach the dark clearing with the Gingerbread house. The second movement describes the witch’s Gingerbread house. The top line shows the house’s roof, the middle line shows the windows and the third line marks out the porch and the front door. The children wonder at the strange building and chatter to each other as they explore it, perhaps nibbling here and there. The motif that describes the shape of the house appears from time to time throughout this section as they explore it from different angles. At letter D, after the G.P., the children begin to sense that they are not alone in the house. The low trill on the third flute is meant to be a breathy whisper (it doesn’t matter if the notes fail in performance for this reason) as the witch mutters under her breath. She attempts to pounce on the children and force them into her oven, but they are too fast for her. They trick her into the oven and slam the door shut (Bar before F.) They run from the clearing, not caring if they are going in the right direction. They glance back - once catching sight of the Gingerbread house which has begun to collapse in on itself - before they finally stop for breath as night begins to fall and they find a safe place to sleep (Lento before G.)
The third movement sees our young heroes looking for the trail of breadcrumbs to take them back to the village. They are plodding through the deep forest, accompanied once more by the birds. Occasionally they find a crumb or two, but the birds have eaten most of them. They eventually manage to backtrack to the village (the music reflects this as it’s a retrograde of some of the music from movement 1) and they finally reach the village where they are greeted with a party for having killed the witch and returned safely home. This music is in a ‘pastoral style (6/8) and fades away as …they all lived happily ever after.