Works For Double Wind Quintet

The standard book of reference for all conducted wind chamber ensembles is An Annotated Guide to Wind Chamber Music for Six to Eighteen Players by Rodney Winther of the College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, published by Warner Brothers in 2004. Winther gives us over 350 pages of notes on dozens of large scale works for wind, with his own personal list of Top 101 Compositions, indices by Composer and by Instrumentation, listing of all works by size of ensemble, including works with soloists and with voices, a listing of end notes and finally Publisher Information. Every library and wind chamber music player or conductor should have a copy.

The world's most complete listing of works for double quintet is on the web site by Cathy Gerhart

There are thirty four pieces for double wind quintet listed, twelve of which make Rod's Top 101. My selection of works which I have in my library, have conducted and would recommend colleagues to programme are as follows:

Composer Work Publisher Duration
Bennett, Richard Rodney Reflections on a C16th  Tune Novello/Schirmer 17.00
Bernard, Emile Divertissement Kalmus or Durand 22.30
Bird, Arthur Serenade Margun 21.30
Bird, Arthur Suite in D Margun 26.00
Caplet, André Suite Persanne Masters Music 12.00
Casadesus, Francois London Sketches Salabert 10.00
Dvorak arr Sheen Czech Suite Masters Music 21.00
Ellerby, Martin Divertimento Studio Music 18.00
Enescu, Georges Dixtuor Kalmus or Salabert 20.00
Francaix, Jean Neuf Pieces Caracteristiques Schott 12.45
Francaix, Jean Sept Danses from Les Malheurs Schott 13.00
Gipps, Ruth Seascapes Warner Bros 10.00
Janacek arr Sheen Lachian Dances Masters Music 10.00
Lutyens, Elizabeth Music for Wind Schott 11.00 
McCabe, John Symphony for 10 Wind Novello 18.00
Milhaud, Darius Symphony no 5 Kalmus 6.55
Poulenc arr Francaix Musique pour faire plaisir Schott 9.40
Raff, Joachim Sinfonietta Masters Music 25.00
Wilder, Alec Serenade Margun 12.00

Everyone of course knows the Petite Symphonie of Gounod, written for the great virtuoso Taffanel, but few know the wonderful Concerto for Flute and Eight Instruments by William Alwyn (1905-1987), a wonderful romantic show-piece. That led me onto the next page of Rod Winther's book and a reminder of the superb Instant Music by Kurt Schwertsig for solo flute and an ensemble of -232:3221. Published by Boosey and Hawkes this is again a great solo work for the flute.

Many players in Europe will be unfamiliar with the music of Arthur Bird (1856-1923), the American romantic composer, a pupil of Liszt. His music with that of Emile Bernard, Joachim Raff, Enescu, Caplet and Casadesus creates a little oasis of original romantic repertoire for smaller ensemble, great to change the pace and style of a concert.

For those looking for wit and good humour, try any work by the incomparable Jean Francaix and also the sadly neglected works of Alec Wilder. I do not actually know this Serenade, but I like everything by Wilder that I know. My first encounter was his Horn Belt Boogie for horn quartet, harpsichord and rhythm, which I had on an old vinyl record played by Gunther Schuller (if I remember over forty years correctly) with Mitch Miller's band on the other side playing My Little Black Eyed Suzy.

So to the 20th century and why not celebrate the centenary of Elizabeth Lutyens with a rare performance of her astringent Music for Wind. She was one of England's first contemporary composers, and had a huge influence on Richard Rodney Bennett. His recent Reflections on a 16th Century Tune however is far from contemporary and will charm any audience while presenting players with teasing but not insurmountable problems. Milhaud's miniature Symphony no 5 is in three movements - Rude - Lent - Violent , and reminds me of the dissonant energy of Varese, no charm here. It is good that Rod Winther has rescued Ruth Gipps' Seascape. It is in one movement of differing sections, like John McCabe's Symphony for 10 Wind Instruments and both are well worth exploring. Finally, if you enjoy Martin Ellerby's band scores you will enjoy his Divertimento, and Graham Sheen, principal bassoon with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, has made two excellent transcriptions of romantic Slav works by Dvorak and Janacek, as reliable as ever.