Dreamsongs for Wind Quintet

The excellent Carter Quintet recently gave the London première of some of my Dreamsongs for WInd Quintet, a set of seven miniatures based on titles and lines from American poet John Berryman’s 77 Dream Songs. I used these as a way into writing for wind quintet, an ensemble that requires a great deal of attention to bring together the very disparate sounds  and demands of the instruments in a way that is musically satisfying.

They opened with the snorting ‘Stimulant for an Old Beast’, before playing ‘Flying boy in mountain air’ and ‘Times of galaxies fleeing’, an exercise in stasis followed by an exercise in movement, especially of tempo, which is constant flux.

Still turning

An ensemble for clarinet, french horn, marimba, accordion, harp and double bass offers lots of different sounds and colours, and I was keen to exploit these by writing a piece that gave each instrument soloistic material at some point: flashy virtuosic leaping around in the clarinet, long and sustained melodies in the horn, quick stabs and runs in the marimba and double bass (often pizzicato), and twinkly stuff in the harp and accordion. It’s written in a kind of passacaglia form which takes the fanfare-like opening as a theme which is manipulated through the rest of the piece.