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University Church, Oxford

15 September 2022 | 1:00 pm


Gunther Schuller Suite for Wind Quintet

  • I. Prelude
  • II. Blues
  • III. Toccata

Oliver Knussen Three Little Fantasies

  • I. Tempo guisto
  • II. Lento e calmo
  • III. Vivace

Carl Nielsen Wind Quintet

  • I. Allegro ben moderato
  • II. Menuetto
  • III. Praeludium: Adagio. Tema con variazioni: Un poco andantino

Why this programme…?

We start off with the jazz inspired quintet (1945) of the American composer and French Horn player Gunther Schuller. Although jazz and the freedom that comes with this sound world sits on the surface (especially in ‘Blues’), the composer is actually very specific about sticking to what is written. Indeed, he insists that none of the players attempt anything in the way of improvising, slides, emphasis of certain beats, etc. We feel this fun and variable piece is a pleasant way to kick off the concert.

Oliver Knussen’s Three Little Fantasies (1970) is also a piece filled with detailed directions for the players to munch on. Specifically, it uses a technique called ‘Klangfarbenmelodie’ where one melody is passed between the players but still retains its line. Knussen said “they were originally – perhaps unrealistically! – intended as etudes in such things for young players” and indeed this piece is probably the hardest of the programme. It even requires us to conduct at points (it’s not required but it is necessary). 

Finally, we’re really looking forward to performing the Nielsen quintet (1923) for the very first time. A staple for any wind quintet’s diet, the Nielsen is probably one of the most well known and loved pieces of the repertoire – so for us, this couldn’t come sooner! The composer had in mind the members of a specific group (the Copenhagen Wind Quintet) when writing, so each part is filled to the brim with the individual personalities – from the sometimes seemingly strange choice of dynamics, to the choice of including a Cor Anglais, right down to the argument between the clarinet and bassoon in one of the 3rd movement’s variations. 

So, each piece has three movements with each composer being highly committed to intense detail. Other than that, they are complete and utter contrasts!


15 September 2022
1:00 pm


University Church
The High Street
Oxford, OX1 4BJ
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