Through the Winds
(A Sextet for Wind Quintet and Piano)
Through the Winds (A Sextet for Wind Quintet and Piano) was begun in Autumn 1988, then put aside and was completed on 14 June 1989 at the Brevard Music Center (where I was Composer-in-Residence). It was written especially for The Clarion Wind Quintet.
The piece consists of four movements:
I. “Estampie” (ca. 3′) was inspired by the Middle Ages dance form, the “estampie”. This ecstatic and canonic movement has all of the instruments on the same pitches. The main idea is first stated by the flute with other wind instruments gradually entering in canon, which is underpinned by a rhythmically augmented version of the canon in the piano.
II. Elegy (ca. 6′) is for flute, horn and piano only and was composed during late November 1988 when our nation was reflecting upon the 25th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The moving television footage of the Kennedy funeral, climaxing in the slightly flawed playing of Taps, was extremely moving to me. The musical basis for this movement is Taps which, over a piano passacaglia-like idea, is constantly blurred through quarter-tone pitch-bending.
III. Scherzo (ca. 9′ 15″), in its opening and closing sections, is for piano, oboe, clarinet and bassoon only. As is typical of a scherzo movement, its fast triple meter is felt in a pulse of one beat per bar. The “joke” of this scherzo (“joke” is the meaning of the word) is the mid-section where all instruments of the sextet join in playing in a laid-back rag. Solo, cadenza-like passages for the instruments not featured in II (bassoon, clarinet and oboe) lead to the climactic section of the rag and, then, to the return of the opening fast section.
IV. Dance (ca. 4′), like the opening “Estampie”, is a virtuosic movement for all the instruments of the sextet. The quick and exhilarating opening section is followed by a dreamy mid-section of woodwind solos over a backdrop of floating piano notes. The movement comes to an energetic end with the return of the opening material of Dance.
Total duration of Through the Winds = ca. 22′ 15″
Winston-Salem and Brevard, North Carolina