This disc is comprised of three works from renowned composer, Daniel Asia. Woodwind Quintet, String Quartet No. 2, and Brass Quintet were written over the years 1985-2001. The ensembles presented on this recording are, quite simply, the best in the business. The American Brass Quintet and the Dorian Wind Quintet are premiere ensembles of their respective genres. The Cypress Quartet is considered one of the fastest rising young quartets.
The Woodwind Quintet is a sequence of six bagatelles. Each is relatively brief and straightforward and, for the most part, presents one idea and its development. They range from jaunty to tranquil, from busy to languid. The String Quartet No. 2 is a set of variations based on a three-part theme. The variations are gathered together in four movements, each with its own shape and mood, although cross-references and relationships abound. It contains music of utmost seriousness to the most zany. The most recent music is the Brass Quintet, composed in 2001. It’s a work in three movements. Each has its own shape, materials, and atmosphere and each movement moves toward its own tonal resolution.
Here is a review from Audiophile Audition (fourth one down)
Trilogy: Chamber Music of Daniel Asia
Woodwind Quintet (1998)
Dorian Wind Quintet (Jerry Kirkbride, clarinet).
Hidden among Daniel Asia’s (b. 1953) String Quartet No. 2 and his Brass Quintet we find his wonderful Woodwind Quintet.
Asia is a prolific composer, conductor and writer, and is on the faculty of the University of Arizona, Tucson. In addition to his numerous recent works he has published an important book, Observations on Music, Culture and Politics. I previously highlighted his Pines Songs for wind quintet, voice and piano in “Quintessence” No. 11, February/March 1991.
About the Woodwind Quintet Asia has written that “the piece was conceived more as a series of bagatelles, an attempt not to write something long and discursive, but to offer an extended snapshot, something that gives you a very strong and quick sensation.” The five movements’ titles
give word to the varied nature of the always direct and expressive quintet: “Lively,” “Moderately,” “Fiery,” “Ruminative,” “Impetuous and darting,” and “Fast and mercurial.”
I hear gestures, voicings and textures similar to that of the Barber Summer Music and the Fine Partita, fine models, akin to the neoclassical aesthetic. The fourth movement is especially ravishing. There are also many passages – especially with unison/octave doublings – that will require a reasonable amount of careful balancing of instruments and attention to intonation.
The work was commissioned by the Dorian Quintet with funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and a private patron, Charlene Sampson. This recorded performance is masterful and spirited, full of spunk and sensitivity. Asia’s Woodwind Quintet will not be a quick study but could enter the repertoire of many an advanced college student, faculty or professional ensemble. Published by Modern Works Music Publishing, it is well worth the effort to perform or to listen to this CD.
NEWS FLASH: Dan Asia has recently written another work for wind quintet: Chicago Variations, based on a riff from the Pines Songs. Written for the Quintet Attacca. Stay tuned!
-Bruce Creditor for The CLARINET