Hymns for Flute and Piano
Kimberly Bryan, flute
Timothy Shaw, piano
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Shaw Music has released a new album featuring flute and piano music recorded by Kimberly Bryan (flute) and Timothy Shaw (piano). The album, Hymns for Flute and Piano, offers listeners a fresh perspective on a collection of eleven familiar hymns arranged by Timothy Shaw. Selections range from the majestic “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!” and the lively “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” to the tranquil “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us” and the stirring “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” The variety of textures and unique interpretations on this album provide a stimulating listening experience for any time of the year. This album is available as a Shaw Music Digital Release on all major streaming services.
The Stories behind the Music…
The pieces on this album were written over a span of seventeen years, and Kimberly and I are delighted to bring the music to life and share it with you. Like stories, each piece has a unique arc with its own emotional journey encompassing a range of moods. We hope that listening to these pieces will move you as much as we were moved while rehearsing and recording them. And we offer the notes below for those who want to deepen their appreciation of the musical offerings on this album.
I wrote “This Is My Father’s World” in 2008, for Anne Martindale-Williams, principal cellist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In 2023, I adapted the cello arrangement for flute, incorporating registral shifts and flutter tongued notes idiomatic to the flute. The piece is structured in a palindromic form, each section based on portions of the tune, with the central section featuring a simple statement of the tune’s first half played by solo piano. The flute returns with a triumphal passage before ending quietly with material that recalls the piece’s opening.
The following two settings are from the collection Hymns for Treble Instrument, which I wrote in 2022. The third verse of “O Worship the King” drifts into the minor mode and explores other key areas before modulating up by third for the final verse. “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!” opens softly and gradually builds to a strong finish. The accompaniment’s first melodic gesture is transferred to the bass line in the final verse, creating a downward step pattern reminiscent of Baroque music.
“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” was written in 2006 for David Kim, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, adapted here for flute. This American tune is a favorite of many, and the instruments share in its presentation — as the first melodic phrase ends in the flute, the piano begins playing the next phrase, and so on throughout the arrangement.
The following four pieces are also from Hymns for Treble Instrument. “Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us” is a quiet setting, in ABA form, in which the tune is always prominent. “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” pairs a flowing accompaniment with a soaring instrumental line. The second verse uses counterpoint to create interplay between the instruments. “Here Is Love” takes Robert Lowry’s beautifully lilting tune and weaves it with original countermelodies. “My Jesus, I Love Thee” opens with a modal harmonization that gives way to the major tonality by the end of the piece.
I wrote “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go” in 2016, for violin and piano, in memory of a beloved pastor on commission by his daughters. At my mother’s request, my son and I played this setting at her memorial service in November 2022. The flute version remains close to the original, with some embellishments included on this recording.
“Thou Who Wast Rich beyond All Splendor” is a setting of the French melody “Quelle est cette odeur agréable,” which is paired with Frank Houghton’s hymn text. Distinctive features include the piano’s phrasing (in two) contrasted with the flute’s phrasing (in three), the contrapuntal middle section, and the harmonic color resulting from the lowered seventh of the scale. This version is adapted from the 2013 original version for violin and piano.
The album concludes with a bonus track, “It Is Well with My Soul,” on which Kimberly and I improvise using a lead sheet/chart that I wrote in September 2023, for use in my church’s worship services. This track captures Kimberly’s breathtaking artistry, and I know you will enjoy this thoughtful interpretation of a much-loved hymn.