Americana Wind Quintet
by Bruce Stark
Hymn to the Dawn
Bruce Stark’s Americana Wind Quintet (2009) is the takeaway discovery on this CD. A jewel, Stark’s quintet is gorgeous, engaging, complexly structured, and intellectually rewarding. Its four movements are as expansive as the American spirit, with lots of nice ensemble writing, delicious coloring, and motivic ideas cleverly linked by threads of repetition and special effect.
- Daniel Kepl, Performance Arts Review (Jan 2018)
. . . there is something about it that is unmistakably “American” in sound and spirit that’s hard to describe. Above all, I find it to be an exquisitely beautiful piece and one that has grown on me with repeated hearings and moved me deeply. Listen, for example, to the second movement, “Hymn to Dawn.” What extraordinarily beautiful music this is . . .
- Jerry Dubins, Fanfare (Jan/Feb 2018)
This is a magnificent and engaging addition to the woodwind quintet literature.
- Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare (Jan/Feb 2018)
This well-crafted composition should be a staple in the woodwind quintet repertoire.
- Flute Talk (Nov 2017)
The four movements of the American composer Bruce Stark's Americana Wind Quintet abound in poetic and dramatic flights spiced with savoury flavours and rhythmic twists.
- Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone (Nov 2017)
Black Five Woodwind Quintet performs Americana Wind Quintet in Tokyo in 2011
Composed in 2009, the four movements of Americana Wind Quintet bring out my favorite qualities of these instruments, and give the performers a variety of roles to play. A minor third motif played by horn in the first movement is like a recurring mantra, and other motifs and melodies also make appearances throughout the movements.
Spring Serenade introduces broad melody over a tapestry of staccato notes in the other instruments, then develops with jazz-inspired solos in the three upper winds. An abundance of melodic ideas appear, from bird-like chirps of the opening to the more robust central theme, and the instrumental solos bring new charcters into the play, each making its presence felt as the music unfolds. Hymn to the Dawn features the flute and clarinet in quiet, pastoral phrases and hymn-like passages for the entire quintet. River Song (inspired by Native American cultures) features the oboe singing over an undulating backdrop, then grows in momentum with a second statement in the upper winds as running figures are transferred to horn and bassoon. City Shuffle is a swinging, syncopated jam session in which flute , clarinet and oboe all contribute a solo in the style of jazz improvisation. I hope that, true to its title, Americana Wind Quintet brings together diverse influences to produce something nevertheless organic, with an overall character of its own.
— Bruce Stark
Americana Wind Quintet was commissioned in 2009 by the Sapporo Symphonietta Woodwind Quintet. They premiered the piece in Sapporo, Japan on September 23, 2010.
The Westwood Wind Quintet included Americana Wind Quintet in Augmented, its 2017 release from Crystal Records.