The woodwind family is an amazing group of instruments. Unlike brass and strings, each instrument has its own unique sound. Yes, a cello sounds different from a violin and a French horn is different than a tuba, but the sound colors are similar. That is a difficult assertion to make with a flute and oboe. All this means is that woodwinds are rich in coloristic opportunities.
When writing this piece, I tried to give each movement its own unique character. Other than simply changing the harmonic and rhythmic language of each movement, every line is crafted towards the instrument that plays it. For instance, listen to the expressive lines that the oboe has in the slow movements or the silly and playful lines that the oboe has in the faster movements.
In the last movement in particular, which is the Fugue, pay attention to how the main subject sounds and feels different as the different instruments enter and play it. While the subject itself doesn’t change, the emotional connection to the subject changes as the various instruments play it with a different color. That is a prime example of how rich the colors in the woodwind section are.
- Bb Clarinet