Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936)
Quintetto a fiati in sol minore

I - Allegro; II - Andante

Respighi, though best remembered for his "Roman" tone poems and other large-scale orchestral works of the 1910s and 20s, was also a prolific chamber music composer. His interest in music of the past stems from early in his career, and this G minor work, curiously in only two movements, is distinctly neoclassical in that both the structure and idiom of the work seem drawn from previous epochs in music history.

The Allegro opens with a bold, fanfare-like introduction, followed by two lyrical themes, contrasted by the manner in which they are treated (the first accompanied with restless quaver movement, the second being more relaxed). The return of the opening fanfare heralds the recapitulation of both lyrical themes to complete the paradigmatic Classical first movement structure, and the ensuing coda winds the movement down to a close.

The second movement, by contrast, is an Andante theme and variations. The theme, which resembles a Baroque chorale and is initially presented in the expected four-part texture (omitting flute), possesses a ternary structure and lyrical, chorale-like quality. Then, in the manner of late Beethoven, the theme undergoes transformation, though remaining in recognisable form, in three successive variations: firstly into a light, jovial section, then into a stately 6/8 dance, and finally into an energetic scherzo with a surprising ending. CMW

© 1996 The Arethusa Ensemble