Listening Log

Three Shanties for Wind Quintet

  • Composer: Malcom Arnold
  • Year of composition: 1943
  • Instruments: flute, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, horn
  • Performed by: Magali Mosnier, Sebastian Manz, Ramon Ortega Quero, Marc Trenel, David Fernandez Alonso
  • Listened to: 20.07.2022

Starting this piece, I immediately recognized the tune of “The drunken sailor”, which is portrayed in a fast pace, and introduced similar to a fugue by all 5 instruments. Over the long central part of the piece, Arnold moves away from the theme, and introduces some short motifs, which are often focused on just one instrument, the pace gradually becomes slower. The last part of the piece is introduced by the “drunken sailor” theme again, using the fast pace from the beginning and being played unison this time.

The second shanty is started much slower, instead of focusing on single instrument, Albert seems to create different sound colours with alternating combinations of instruments. The played melody is soft and warm, with a few “interruptions” involving a descending staccato movement, which adds a somewhat playful character to the piece.

The third movement starts rather fierce, again with a faster pace and a bright tune which is initially mainly led by the higher instruments. Arnold develops several melodic ideas over a forward moving dotted – note rhythm.

3 Pieces breves for wind quintet

  • Composer: Jaques Ibert
  • Year of composition: 1930
  • Instruments: Flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon
  • Performed by: Les vents Francais
  • Listened to: 20.07.2022

The first movement starts with a vivid sounding theme played by all instruments, shortly after the clarinet and flute seem to be taking over the first part of a fast, cheerful melody, accompanied by the lower instruments. Towards the centre of the piece, Ibert uses more dissonant chords which are always placed at the end of short phrases. I found it really interesting that he chose to accelerate the pace at the end instead of slowing it down. The second movement is introduced by the flute playing a slow calming theme. Slowly the other instruments are introduced as well, initially all with the same melodic line. Nonetheless, over the progress of the short movement, the voices all become more independent, creating a soft polyphonic theme. The third movement initially reminded me of film music from the 80s due to the sound colour of the initial three chords. The rest of the piece mostly consists of a melody mainly led by the flute and echoed by the other instruments.

Wind Quintet in A – Flat Major, Op. 114

  • Composer: Gustav Holst
  • Year of composition: 1903
  • Instruments: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon
  • Performed by: Elysian Wind Quintet
  • Listened to: 21.07.2022

The piece consists of four movements. The first movement is opened by the clarinet with a festive melody, which is slowly joined by the other instruments. Even though some different ideas are processed, the whole movement seems to “swim” in a calm mood. The adagio continues with the calm sound, this time introduced by the horns. Paying more attention to accompanying a melody instead of using polyphonic ideas, the movement seems slightly warmer than the first one. The menuet starts as a canon, started by the clarinet and repeated the first time by the horn. After that the melody starts to spread over the other instruments. The last movement is a variation, started by the flute this time. The main melody seems light and playful.

Wind – Quintet in G – minor, op 56, 2, 1st movement

  • Composer: Franz Danzi
  • Year of composition: 1821
  • Instruments: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon
  • Performed by: Philharmonisches Bläserquintett
  • Listened to: 21.07.2022

Similar to a string – quintet, this piece also consists of four movements. The Allegretto alternates between a slighlty dramatic main – theme and a more virtuously sounding side – motif. I found especially interesting how the composer had the melody almost seamlessly wander from one instrument to the next. Some new melodic themes are introduced during the development, which are later also used in the recapitulation.

Declamatory Ascent

  • Composer: Atlantic Brass Quintet
  • Year of composition: 2018
  • Instruments: 2 trumpets, french horn, tuba, trombone
  • Performed by: Atlantic Brass Quintet
  • Listened to: 28.07.2022

The beginning, the piece seems really hypnotic, as a phrase of only a few notes is repeated several times. Starting with only two instrument, slowly more and more are added, each of them bringing in their own melodic line. The part comes to a break when just one note is repeatably played by a lower instrument, functioning as a pedal point for the coming warmer section. Overall the whole piece seems to consist of several parts, all really colourful in their own way. They are mostly seperated by short solo phrases.


  • Composer: Astor Piazolla
  • Year of composition: 1974
  • Instruments: 2 trumpets, french horn, tuba, trombone, drums
  • Performed by: Emerals Brass Quintet
  • Listened to: 28.07.2022

As I already know this piece for another setting, I wanted to see how it was arranged for a brass quintet. The mostly syncopated rhythm gives the piece it’s dance – like charming character. In terms of the melody, I think it is very effective how the composer confronts short staccato notes with soft long notes. For this arrangement, I found it especially effective, as the introduction notes (mostly staccato) seemed slightly hectic and cold, but as the main melody joins in, the piece suddenly becomes very warm and bright. The melody is carried over several instruments, all bringing in their own distinctive tone – colour. This staccato – legato contrast is a technique I also consider using for my own compositions.

Canzon 1

  • Composer: Gioavanni Gabrieli
  • Year of composition: around 1600
  • Instruments: 2 trumpets, french horn, tuba, trombone
  • Performed by: American Brass Quintet
  • Listened to: 28.07.2022

This bright short piece, has a fanfare – like theme. Mostly all of the instruments focus on the same melodic line split up into chords. Nonetheless some passages also involve a rhythmically varying bass line. The character of the piece mostly comes from dynamical and technical changes as the composer puts the brighter – sharp sound of the higher instruments against some lower – softer sounds.

Four Outings for Brass Quintet – 1st movement

  • Composer: Andre Previn
  • Year of composition: 2021
  • Instruments: 2 trumpets, french horn, tuba, trombone
  • Performed by: Brass Quintet München
  • Listened to: 28.07.2022

This piece is mainly disharmonic and involves several rhythmical characters. Starting with a shrill sounding melody, the music moves onto a soft sounding waltz – rhythm, which’s echoes can still be heard over the rest of the piece. Some fragments of a leading melody appear within the centre of the piece, leading to some shrill forte – chords, creating a small peak point.


  • Composer: Aram Khachaturian
  • Year of composition: 1932
  • Performed by: Murray McLachlan
  • Listened to: 28.07.2022

This short fanfare is introduces by a short rhythmical solo theme on one note before the other instruments join in to create a brighter and warmer colour. The rhythm of the introduction is used throughout the whole piece. All notes are played at the same time, creating a single melodic line, each note underlined by different harmonies, leading towards a conclusive, heroic sounding end.


  • Composer: Martin Pope
  • Year of composition: 2010
  • Performed by: Forbury Consort
  • Listened to: 28.07.2022

Unlike the other fanfare – like pieces I’ve listened to so far – this one didn’t start with a rhythmical theme played on one note. Instead the piece is started with just one note, and the other ones slowly join in to create different chords. Nonetheless, again no instrument moves rhythmically individually – they all play at the same time.