L’Oiseau Libre (Fantasy on Themes by Lynyrd Skynyrd)

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L’Oiseau Libre is a virtuosic piece for violin and piano written in response to a call for encore submissions by violinist Hilary Hahn. It uses snippets of the iconic rock anthem “Freebird” as the main motifs. For example, here is opening guitar lick of Freebird

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and here is the opening vocal line:

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I took those excerpts and combined them into a whirling, spiky reimagining of that source material.

It’s interesting to compare two different performances of the piece. It was premiered in Paris as part of the European American Music Alliance. The amazing Dasha Koltunyuk and Rachel Ostler were able to put this very challenging piece together in just two days. The resulting performance, while not note perfect, wonderfully catches the energy of the piece at a blistering tempo.

A year later, Erik Rhode played the piece in a series of recitals. He and his pianist Jieun Kim had a good deal more time to prepare the piece and took much more conservative tempi. The performance is spot on, but I can’t help but wish that last section in particular pushed forward more aggressively.

It’s a real crowd pleaser and I’d love to hear more violinists pick it up. If you’re interested in performing the piece, please email me at bmrosen@musicvstheater.com.

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