Take one flute, one oboe, and mix well with one each of a clarinet, bassoon and French horn —and you have the recipe for the traditional wind quintet. In the 19th century, this tasty musical mix was perfected by Europeans like the Czech composer Anton Reicha, who produced 24 wind quintets in his lifetime.
In the 20th century, American composers like Samuel Barber, Elliott Carter, and John Harbison have all written one wind quintet each—matching Reicha’s in quality, if not in quantity. But other American composers HAVE returned to the wind quintet for a second helping. On today’s date in 1993, the Wind Quintet No. 2 of the Californian composer David Ward-Steinman received its premiere in Sacramento by the Arioso Quintet.
Ward-Steinman titled his second quintet “Night Winds,” and asked his five players to occasionally double on some non-traditional instruments such as bamboo or clay flutes, a train-whistle, and even the traditional wind instrument of Indigenous Australians, the didgeridoo—all to create some atmospheric “night-wind” sounds.
In addition to wind quintets, David Ward-Steinman composed orchestral works, chamber music and pieces for solo piano. A native of Louisiana, Ward-Steinman studied with Darius Milhaud in Aspen, Milton Babbitt at Tanglewood, and Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
Music Played in Today's Program
Antonin Reicha (1770-1836)Wind Quintet No. 23 in a No. 23, Op. 100Albert Schweitzer QuintetCPO 999027
David Ward-Steinman (1936-2015)Woodwind Quintet No. 2 (Night Winds)Arioso QuintetFleur de Son Classics 57935