All woodwinds, that is. The so-called woodwind quintet is a flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and french horn. The latter, however, is frequently included in small chamber consorts, especially in the Baroque, as they play those lovely hunting calls and stirring royal fanfares.
The Baroque sonata form often contained a 3/4 or 6/8 meter movement, and horns would feature prominently. The horn can also sustain a pedal tone or sound the root of a chord to support the other four instruments.
There was lots ‘o repertoire written for woodwind quintet in the 20th century. There is a woodwind quintet nestled in with a string quartet, augmented percussion, and celeste in Benjamin Britten’s Turn of the Screw. Britten wrote the score for “eleven solo instruments,” and organized his twelve-tone row into triadic tonal centers so the ear hears common practice harmony.
Three of the woodwind quintet members double on other instruments. Flute/alto flute/piccolo, oboe/English horn, clarinet/bass clarinet and C clarinet. Britten’s orchestration is amazing. He creates a broader palette of pleasing sound than any other 12-tone composer.
The opera is based on the Henry James novella, and is every bit as scary. There are only four characters: a young boy and his older sister, the new governess, and two very sinister servants, a woman and a man. It’s a plum role for a boy soprano, and is not often performed.
I had a stupendous senior year in college. Actually two years. Sonoma State University in the late 70’s, faculty all Berkeley ph.d.s, slathered in non-western and experimental music. A lucky, lucky woman. I’ve been fortunate in having an arts management career on both the east coast and the west coast. Austin is not as fertile ground for me, or at least not yet. I’ve been fortunate in what I’ve found, and tonight I am very grateful for that.
This is the cool-down for The Good Musician, and I have learned quite a bit, especially about the pedagogy of blogging. Quite a challenge with a day gig, performing, and a tour. I’ll still write about music in my other blog (shameless promotion– http://friedokraproductions.blogspot.com), but you’ll have to put up with the rest of my nonsense if you dare.