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Classical Music Review

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Vol. II
Modern Chamber Music for Winds


Composers: Various
Performed by: New London Chamber Ensemble
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 24 June 2022

Windswept Vol. II, from Navona Records, is a sweeping sonic force of contemporary chamber works for woodwind quintet. Performed by the New London Chamber Ensemble, the works of seven composers soar with modern flair, making use of various instrumental textures and irregular meters with jazz-driven influences sprouting from classical roots. Dynamic displays of dexterity and luscious interplay between performers burst with refined energy in this recording, uplifting listeners into a satisfying and equally enticing atmosphere...

The eight works (12 tracks - 1 hr, 07 min, 01 sec) on Windswept Vol. II represent modern classical music that have their roots firmly entrenched in the here and now, whilst still staying true to traditional classical music values. Unlike Vol. I, which was a mixed bag, Vol. II has a much stronger and more confident thread woven throughout.

The album opens with 'Moon Jazz: River on the Moon', a post-minimalist romp in which fragments of jazzy materials are juxtaposed, layered, and interposed. At times it feels improvised, but by performers who know their parts well.

'The Spirits of Sabate' are three imagined scenes in the Etruscan city of Sabate which lies beneath the waters of Lake Bracciano, one of the volcanic lakes surrounding Rome.

'Toward the Mountains' is the first of the 3-movement 'Mountain Journey' suite, inspired by a short poem of Stephen Crane (1871–1900).

'Twilight Waltz' combines the form’s flowing 3/4 meter with the rhythmic, harmonic, and textural variety that makes pieces interesting: it is a ritornello, with different treatment for each verse, and also departs from the traditional waltz by adding a short coda.

'Variations on a Commoner Theme, No. 1' is a comic work for wind quintet. It is meant to be a fun piece for both the performers and the audience.

'Five, Four by Four' is a work for wind quintet that is built on driving jazz-influenced rhythms and rapid shifts in dynamics. The “five” of the title refers to the configuration on the wind quintet, while the “four by four” refers to the meter of the work on one hand, and the ongoing quasi-variation nature of the piece that occurs every four bars of the piece on the other.

'Midsummer Quintet' is a piece for woodwind quintet, composed during the summer of 2004. It uses a unison refrain, which is additively treated on successive iterations.

'Woodwind Quintet'(2019) is written in a decidedly tonal idiom and romantic idiom.

Track listing:

Loretta K. Notareschi
01. Moon Jazz: River on the Moon (5:24)

David Osbon
02. The Spirits of Sabate: Inundation and Prayer (4:22)
03. The Spirits of Sabate: Procession and Hymn (3:06)
04. The Spirits of Sabate: Celebration and Song (3:27)

L Peter Deutsch
05. Toward the Mountains (3:51)
06. Twilight Waltz (3:32)

Kenneth A. Kuhn
07. Variations on a Commoner Theme, No. 1 (9:32)

Brian Field
08. Five, Four by Four New (5:04)

Ferdinando DeSena
09. Midsummer Quintet (8:56)

Andrew Lewinter
10. Woodwind Quintet: Allegro (6:16)
11. Woodwind Quintet: Dumka: Andante (6:54)
12. Woodwind Quintet: Rondo (6:45)


Darren Rea

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