About this work:
Program notes are included with reference score pdf. However, I have been asked for a shorter version suitable for programs, which I will subtend here.
Contrasts for woodwind quintet, op. 34
The title refers to contrasting elements we hear at play both within movements and between them.
1. Taghkanic. This is the Dutch transliteration of the Amerindian name for a town and its scenic lake in upper New York State. The short tone poem depicts a day I spent there, with a sunrise, various lakeside activities, a variant on the sunrise music to evoke the encroaching dusk, and finally a chirping nightfall.
2. Rumba. The intervals in the clarinet's opening fanfare gradually fan out into a tritone. This interval informs all successive measures of the piece, contributing to its unstable momentum. Even the final cadence features a flatted fifth degree of the scale. (All this can make the diaphonous harmonies of the succeeding movement a bit of a shock!)
3. Variations. The bassoon and flute take turns presenting the main tune. The remaining instruments then present the first variation, a wry waltz. A siciliano variation follows where the flute and bassoon return as protagonists but the other instruments play too, in a supporting role. The composer's lineage is half Italian and half Irish. Thus it is no surprise that we stay in 6/8 time next, but at double time for a lively jig! A Schumannesque variation follows featuring a staccato flute solo in three, but accompanied below in two by the oboe and clarinet. A tango ensues featuring horn solo and often rude interspersions from the higher winds. The recap of the opening tema represents a slight variant in that the bassoon starts alone at first, answered by the flute in imitation.
4. Swingtime. In this finale, our hot little band quite convincingly presents us with that big band swing!
I dedicate my suite with affection to the Italian group Quintessenza Quintetto di Fiati.
3 IV 15
New York City