American Wind Quintets




Music by






for the




When Angels Speak

Commissions and Premieres of the

Manhattan Wind Quintet

Elizabeth Buck, flute ·Lisa Kozenko, oboe

Cris Inguanti, clarinet · Ellen Tomasiewicz, horn

Stephen Wisner, bassoon

The Manhattan Wind Quintet was founded in 1985, while several of its constituent members were earning degrees at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City and playing in the prestigious National Orchestral Association.

From its beginning, the ensemble has been active in advancing the cause of new music for winds. It is not surprising that their first recording as a Quintet is a collection of contemporary works composed by young Americans with whom they have collaborated in their musical travels.

The Quintet achieved several triumphs in their early seasons together. In 1986 they were prize winners in the Coleman and Monterey Peninsula competitions. The Quintet has been awarded other prizes including the Fischoff, Yellow Springs, and Chicago Discovery competitions. As winners of Artists International, the quintet gave its New York debut in Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in January of 1987.

In 1988 the Quintet was appointed ensemble-in-residence with the Nova Filharmonia Portuguesa, in Lisbon, Portugal. They recorded Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante, K. 297b with this chamber orchestra in addition to their duties as principal wind soloists.

More recently the ensemble was a recipient of Chamber Music America's planning and residency grants, enabling them to work in cooperation with the National Orchestral Association and the school system of Yonkers, New York to develop an educational residency program. Subsequently the quintet has traveled across the country participating in other performance residencies in Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.

The Manhattan Wind Quintet's repertoire embraces all styles and periods of wind music, but they are particularly strong in works by composers of our century. When Angels Speak is the first of a series of recordings devoted to commissioned scores of composers producing significant music for wind instruments.

Clair W. Van Ausdall

When Angels Speak: Fantasy for Wind Quintet

by Judith Zaimont

Mortals can only guess at the nature of heavenly discourse. What topics might angels address? Would all speak at once? Would words be used, or might feelings and emotions be preferred as vehicles of expression? Need earthly rules of logical argument prevail? Or, with all eternity in which to ruminate, might not circular reason, digressions, faulty analogies and so on be acceptable or, indeed, preferred?

While composing When Angels Speak in November and December of 1987 lying flat on my back, recuperating from a broken leg I thought about these things. The resulting piece, an eleven-minute, one-movement work in four large sections, sometimes appears to move intuitively, but is in fact rigorously made. Everything in the piece derives from the music of the first two measures, a dotted rhythm followed by an ornament that curls in upon itself.

The piece was conceived as an ensemble work, using the five players almost all the time, as a miniature "band." Its four sections annunciatory, playful/grotesque, lyric and a culminating three-segment "mad dance" are varied in character, tempi and rhythms, with many changing meters throughout.

When Angels Speak was commissioned by the Hon. and Mrs. Martin Lang for the Vox Nova Quintet; that ensemble gave the first performance in 1987 at Weill Recital Hall of New York City's Carnegie Hall. The work receives its premiere recording on this compact disc.

Judith Lang Zaimont

Judith Lang Zaimont's works have received many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Debussy Fellowship of the Alliance Française, and commission grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and American Composers Forum. Her orchestral music has earned the First Prize-Gold Medal in the international Gottschalk Centenary Competition, and the international 1995 McCollin Competition for Composers. Her music is frequently played in the United States and abroad, programmed in recent years by the Philadelphia, Baltimore, Jacksonville and Harrisburg symphony orchestras, the Women's Philharmonic, Connecticut Opera, American Guild of Organists, Florilegium Chamber Choir and Gregg Smith Singers. Since 1992 she has been professor of composition at the University of Minnesota School of Music in Minneapolis.

Till Drumlin Waves

by Peter Susser

Till Drumlin Waves begins at low tide. The overlapping of different instrumental combinations is contrasted with episodes of accompanied melody featuring an individual instrument. The melodic and harmonic content of the piece is derived from the development of two groups of five-, six-, seven- and eight-note scales.

Till Drumlin Waves won second prize at the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Woodwind Quintet Competition at Morehead State University in Kentucky in 1989. It has also been performed by the Florida Woodwind Quintet and the Quintet of the Americas.

The piece was dedicated to Mary and Derek Till in grateful recognition of their kindness and generosity.

Peter Susser

Peter Susser has been commissioned by a variety of orchestras and ensembles including Speculum Musicae, the Queens Band, the Sage City Symphony and the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra. He is a member of the faculties of Columbia University and the School for Continuing Education at New York University, and in 1990 he was resident at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He earned a master's degree in cello performance at the Manhattan School of Music, as well as the Pablo Casals Prize and the Ravel Competition for study in St. Jean-de-Luz, France. He received his Doctorate in Composition from Columbia University. Mr. Susser's music is published by the Association for the Promotion of New Music (APNM) in New York City.

Nocturne for Wind Quintet

by Stephen Wisner

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a Nocturne is "a work of art dealing with evening or night, especially a dreamy, pensive composition for the piano." While rehearsing for the premiere of this piece, one of the musicians asked me what made this a Nocturne. "Go to the source," someone else suggested, the source being me. At that time I lived in an urban area. I tend to stay up late. To me, a "song of the night" isn't necessarily slow and quiet. The night is when thought and feeling seem more intense.

My mother died on her birthday in August of 1993. Her last moments were spent enjoying the full moon and sharing her pleasure in it with my father. The writing of this piece was a project that helped me deal with losing her.

My objective was to commemorate my mother with an enjoyable and romantic piece, the type she would have enjoyed. The music of mine that she liked best involved uncomplicated key signatures and pretty melodies. I have incorporated one of her favorite melodies into this Nocturne: the "Children's Prayer" from Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel.

Nocturne for Wind Quintet begins with a strange nightscape full of questions and yearning melodies. They build on top of each other then are followed by a canon which takes advantage of wide and falling intervals. The next section alternates between a quick scherzo and a pesante dance. The second movement begins quietly with the sound of the fog horns that haunt New York Harbor on misty nights. The melody that builds is full of rage and sorrow, drowning out the fog horns. The dissonance quickly dissolves into a quirky waltz. The final movement is a short rondo. Some of the ideas came to me from the rocking of a friend's boat in the Delaware Bay. My watch was in the middle of the night, and the waves provided me with many rhythmic motifs.

Stephen Wisner

Stephen Wisner has a busy life as a bassoonist but finds time to enjoy one of his first loves, composing. At the University of Michigan his principal composition teacher was Leslie Bassett; he also worked with William Bolcom and bassoonists L. Hugh Cooper, Philip Austin and Stephen Maxym. Mr. Wisner has scored for film and band and enjoys writing all sorts of chamber music. His Quintet for Bassoon and Strings was commissioned and premiered by the Harsimus Ensemble of New Jersey in 1991. His Nocturne for Wind Quintet was recorded in June of 1996, and he is currently at work on a piece for chamber orchestra.

Quintet No. 2

by David Maslanka

Quintet No. 2 for Winds was commissioned by the Manhattan Wind Quintet, which played the first performance in 1987 at the Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall in New York City. It is in three movements. The first, following a quiet introduction, is aggressive and driving in nature. The exposition consists of a number of brief ideas sharply intercut. The center of the movement is a complete fugue evolved out of its opening ideas, employing traditional fugal procedures. The movement ends with a quiet and thoughtful reworking of the introductory material.

The second movement opens in a pleasant and lulling manner, then moves into music of a much more emotional and demanding nature. The warm and soothing quality of the opening returns, and the music disappears by way of a mysterious coda.

The Baroque chaconne is the basis of the third movement. The chaconne is a continuous set of variations growing out of a repeated chord pattern. The extremely simple harmonic scheme used here is presented by itself at the outset. Above it are heard in succession a solo, a duet, a trio, and finally the full ensemble moving to a climactic point. There is a restatement of the opening oboe solo, and a chorale-like coda.

David Maslanka

David Maslanka currently lives and composes in Missoula, Montana. Born in Massachusetts, he earned his undergraduate degree in composition from Oberlin and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University at Lansing. The teaching of H. Owen Reed influenced his own composing, much of which is chamber music for wind instruments, often in combination with percussion. His major works, one of them a piano concerto that was performed by Frederick Fennell and the Eastman Symphonic Wind Ensemble, have been and continue to be frequently heard throughout the United States, as well as in Britain and the rest of the United Kingdom, the Iberian Peninsula, Germany, Israel and Japan.

Manhattan Wind Quintet

Elizabeth Buck, flute

Lisa Kozenko, oboe

Cris Inguanti, clarinet

Ellen Tomasiewicz, horn

Stephen Wisner, bassoon

Engineer: Jeff Harrison

Photo credit: Christian Steiner

Cover artwork: Star Field, Linda Ganus ©1995

Special thanks to Daniel Entin, Frances Kennedy, Howard Matz, Clair Van Ausdall and Lori Salzarulo.

When Angels Speak

Commissions & Premieres of the

Manhattan Wind Quintet

Elizabeth Buck, flute · Lisa Kozenko, oboe · Cris Inguanti, clarinet

Ellen Tomasiewicz, horn · Stephen Wisner, bassoon

Judith Lang Zaimont

When Angels Speak: Fantasy for Wind Quintet (12:11)

Peter Susser

Till Drumlin Waves (9:36)

Stephen Wisner

Nocturne for Wind Quintet

Nocturne (8:34)

Fog & Waltz (5:21)

Delaware Bay (2:43)

David Maslanka

Quintet No. 2 for Winds

Movement I (8:18)

Movement II (7:02)

Movement III (6:49)

Total Time = 60:38