Chamber ensemble (2-7 players)

For oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano

Quintet was commissioned by Chamber Music New Zealand, with funding from Creative New Zealand, for the Brisbane-based Southern Cross Soloists. They gave the first performance as part of a national tour at the Regent on Broadway in Palmerston North on 10 July 2003.

About the work

Because of the limitations of range of the instruments (only the piano has extremes of range), their different tuning systems and the fact that only the clarinet among the wind instruments has possibilities of extended techniques, this piece explores more ‘classical’ ideas than some of the other pieces I wrote around this time.

Quintet is in a single movement with several sections. The work uses a set of 6 notes as its basic idea: sounded together they have a restless quality, but the structure of the set provides both diversity and connection between the sound worlds of the piece.

At the outset, a variety of ideas and textures are presented, not unlike moment form, but not using the extremities of 20th century moment form. A second section, over a piano pedal, initiates an exchange between the bassoon and other instruments. This leads to a rapid scherzo-like section, with a monodic trio. It is closely followed by a slow movement, based on a close-range melody that is a tribute to Hirini Melbourne, who died during the writing of this section. The oboe cadenza which follows is the structural centre of the quartet, and is followed by a reworking in reverse of the material already presented. The ending leaves the piece unresolved.

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

Quintet — SOUNZ

Quintet was recorded as part of SOUNZ’s Resound project.

Quintet — video