OUR FAVORITES, VOL. 2
West Texas Winds
Thursday, October 21, 2021 | 7:30PM
Ellen Noël Art Museum


Partita for Wind Quintet
Irving Fine (1914-1962)

I. Introduction and Theme
II. Variation
III. Interlude
IV. Gigue
V. Coda

Irving Gifford Fine was born in 1914 in Boston, Massachusetts. He studied piano and received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Harvard University. He also studied composition with Nadia Boulanger at the Fontainebleau School of Music in Paris and at Radcliffe College. Fine was close colleagues with Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky, and Aaron Copland, who all provided influences on his composition. Fine worked as a pianist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, taught music theory at Harvard, conducted Harvard’s Glee Club, and also taught composition at the Tanglewood Music Festival. In August 1962, at the age of 47 years, he passed away in Massachusetts from a heart attack.

Fine’s compositional legacy includes a violin sonata, a string quartet, a Fanta-sia for string trio, numerous choral works, and the Partita for Wind Quintet. His inventiveness, sense of proportion, and attention to detail makes Partita a delightfully imaginative work, widely seen as one of the best American contributions to the neoclassical genre. The piece was composed in 1948 in five sections. The opening “Introduction and Theme” establishes the mood early, with high-spirited bursts of melody from all the instruments. The “Variation” becomes even busier, with numerous quick, running lines and carefree trills ornamenting the theme. An “Interlude”, with a slow, yearning melody and clear harmonies, leads into a playful “Gigue”. The final moments of the “Gigue” frequently stop and go into different directions. The movement ends with a final chord, which seems to provide a suitable conclusion, but the work is not over! Fine titles an entire movement “Coda”, closing out the piece with an unexpected seriousness. Fine’s wit and pathos both shine in Partita for Wind Quintet, making it one of his most appealing works


Dix-Sept Variations, Op. 22
Jean-Michel Damase (1928-2013)

The Dix-Sept Variations by French composer, pianist and conductor, Jean- Michel Damase (b. 1928) is an original composition for woodwind quintet. Damase began composing at the age of nine, and entered the Paris Conservatory in 1940. His compositions cover several genres, such as the sonata and concerto, ballet and opera, orchestral and vocal, as well as numerous etudes for flute and harp. Damase was the son of harpist Micheline Kahn, which would explain his many works for harp. Damase wrote many compositions for wind instruments including recent works (2004) for saxophone and piano.

Though seventeen variations sound like a lengthy piece, Damase treats each variation quite simply and always keeps the music moving forward. In fact, most of the variations flow directly into the next with no pause between.

The Theme is stated simply by the clarinet and bassoon, with the whole group joining in for Variation 1. Variation 2 is smooth and flowing in 7/4 time, with a feeling of always rising upward. Oboe and flute are left alone together for a conversational Variation 3, followed by a buoyant, dance-like Variation 4 for the whole ensemble.

The bassoon plays Variation 5 alone in an energetic quasi-recit that is, in fact, very rhythmically precise. Variation 6 is an otherworldly chorus made up of the whole ensemble – the theme is present, but hidden in strange, twisting harmonies.

The clarinet and bassoon begin Variation 7 in a bubbling moto-perpetuo style. The sparkling sixteenth-notes continue as other instruments join in. Variation 8 slows down into a minor key, and then the horn leads the group into a smoothly flowing promenade in Variation 9.

Variation 10 has a pastoral feel, yet is full of complex counterpoint, each new voice stating the melody on top of each other. When the harmony finally settles back into C Major, the bassoon suddenly interrupts with another energetic mo-to-perpetuo: Variation 11. This time, the sixteenth- notes trade much more quickly between instruments, and change register more often.

After a brief pause, the horn leads the stately Variation 12. The horn also be-gins Variation 13, a complicated, leaping dance in constantly changing mixed meter. After becoming more and more agitated, a long scale leads into Varia-tion 14, a strange combination of a floating melody with a churning, often aton-al accompaniment.

The energy of this variation slowly dissipates into the placid clarity of Variation 15. Somewhat nostalgic in feel, this movement still has strange moments of harmonic detachment, but seems to be deciding on a tonal center again.

Variation 16 begins with bouncing sixteenth-notes again, with a touch of mixed meter. The jovial mood grows a bit more frantic and suddenly the final variation arrives in triumph. The original theme returns, accompanied by florid eighths, triplets, and sixteenths all at once – building to a satisfying conclusion.


Scherzo, Op. 48
Eugène Bozza (1905-1991)

Eugène Bozza was a French composer, conductor, and administrator. Born in the city of Nice in 1905, Bozza left home to study composition at the Paris Conservatory. In 1934, he won a prestigious French scholarship award for artists and composers known as the Grand Prix de Rome. He was the conductor of the Paris Opera-Comique from 1939-1948. After his appointment in Paris, Bozza moved to Valenciennes, where he became the director of the Conservatory.

Bozza’s name is well known to wind soloists and chamber music players be-cause of the works he wrote for nearly all wind instruments, many of which being solo pieces for conservatory performance examinations. His works for chamber ensembles display his familiarity with the capabilities of the different instruments, often demanding a great deal of technical skill, without moving away from the expressive style often heard in French music of the 20th centu-ry. One of the best examples of this type of music is his Scherzo, Op. 48 for woodwind quintet.

Scherzo, Op. 48 is a lyrical work that exhibits a chromatic, repetitive melody full of quick triplets from start to finish. This piece allows the performers to show off the technical skills of the ensemble. Each instrument enters on variations of the theme, concluding in an exciting finale, Animando.


Roaring Fork
Eric Ewazen (b. 1954)

I. Whitewater Rapids (Maroon Creek)
II. Columbines (Snowmass Lake)
III. At The Summit (Buckskin Pass)

Eric Ewazen was born in 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio. He studied composition with Milton Babbitt, Samuel Adler, Warren Benson, Joseph Schwantner, and Gunther Schuller at the Eastman School of Music, Tanglewood, and The Juilliard School. He is perhaps best known for his many compositions for brass, but he has also written numerous pieces for other instrumentations large and small, including solos, orchestras, bands, and choirs.

A recipient of numerous composition awards and prizes, Ewazen's works have been commissioned and performed by many soloists, chamber ensembles, and orchestras in the United States and overseas. Two recently commissioned works were Legacy for the Bi-Centennial of West Point, and Flight, commissioned by the USAF Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, celebrating the 100th anniversary of powered flight. He has been a guest at almost 100 universities and colleges around the world and has been a lecturer for the New York Philharmonic's Musical Encounters Series, Vice-President of the League of Composers/International Society of Contemporary Music, and Composer-In-Residence with the Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York City. He has been a faculty member at The Juilliard School since 1980.

Ewazen provides the following program notes:

Roaring Fork Quintet for Wind Instruments was commissioned by and is dedi-cated to the Borealis Wind Quintet, who premiered the work during their tour of the United States in the winter of 1993-94. The valley of the Roaring Fork River in Colorado is home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the Rocky Mountains. The first movement, "Whitewater Rapids (Maroon Creek)", with bright high melodic lines, ever-changing colors and rhythmic energy, depicts the lush, rich sounds of the Maroon Creek's flowing rapids. The second move-ment, "Columbines (Snowmass Lake)", evokes the serenity of Snowmass Lake, a glacial lake ringed by peaks of 13,000 feet and surrounded by delicate and fragile white columbines; it is a scene at once awesome and intimate, the mu-sic alternately gentle and expansive. The final movement, "At the Summit (Buckskin Pass)" portrays the sense of exhilaration, excitement and quiet amazement one experiences at the top of Buckskin Pass, with its arduous as-cent and 360 degree view of mountain ranges, lakes, streams, and dark green valleys.


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