Pittsburgh's Goldberg Shows Flute Mastery

Bernard Goldberg sat down in the principal flutist's chair of the Cleveland Orchestra at the age of 21 and has been in the front row of performers on his instrument ever since-during the last 26 years as principal flutist of the Pittsburgh Symphony. So it was no surprise to hear him give an impressive display of his craft at Carnegie Recital Hall on Monday night. Dazzling fluency, varied tone color, pinpoint pitch - Mr. Goldberg had all the good qualities one hopes to find in a flutist.

His musical sympathies, moreover, are unusually wide for a symphony orchestra veteran: The program ranged from unaccompanied Bach (Sonata in A minor) to the kitchen-sink modernism of Nguyen Thien Dao, a young Vietnamese composer who studied with Messiaen in Paris. The Vietnamese work, "Tay Nguyen," employed two flutes, a piccolo, a piano played internally as well as on the keys, and a portable radio carefully tuned at one point to interstation static.

As frequently happens in such pieces, the no-holds-barred approach to the instruments produced fleetingly attractive sonorities. But in the end it was too easy to overlook the music, which was hardly striking in itself, in the welter of gimmicks.

At the other end of the modern spectrum was Michael C. Baker's Sonata for Flute and Piano, an easily digestible blend of French neoclassicism and impressionism by a Canadian composer who seemed under the influence of Bizet or Ibert.

Mr. Goldberg, who encountered a few breathing and phrasing problems in the first movement of Bach, sailed without trouble through Varese's "Density 21.5," "Blumen" Variations and an utterly ludicrous but technically fearsome "Carmen" Fantasy by Francois Borne. An accomplished pianist and musician, Patricia Prattis Jennings, gave Mr. Goldberg rocklike support in the duo pieces.