Horn Quintet 'La Barca'


Horn, Violin, Viola, Cello and Piano
Commissioned by Music from Angel Fire, 1999 supported by The Bruce E. Howden, Jr., American Composers Project
Recorded on Albany CD - Bennington Chamber Music Conference
First performance: August 1999 Music from Angel Fire, Angel Fire, NM

Program notes: 

Horn Quintet ‘La Barca’ was commissioned for the 1999 Music from Angel Fire festival with the generous support of the Bruce E. Howden Jr., American Composers Project.  This is the third ‘water music’ piece which I have written.  The others are ‘to be sung on the water’ (1988) for violin and viola and ‘Wedge’ (1990) for orchestra.  (The Wedge is a famous bodysurfing spot in Southern California.)  This Horn Quintet carries the subtitle ‘La Barca’ (‘the boat’ in Italian) primarily because the entire work, which lasts about 15 minutes, is moving toward a barcarole at the end.  Even ‘la barca’ itself seems to rock on the tongue in the manner of a gondola.  (‘The boat’ just doesn’t cut it.) After a brief opening ‘motto’ featuring stopped horn and muted piano, the character of the extended first section suggests water music:  rocking chords in the string trio and piano accompany an extended lyrical solo in the horn.  This returns in varied form just before the barcarole.  A good deal of the middle of the piece is fast, with the chords of the opening transformed into syncopated rhythms and rapid alternation between strings and piano.  The horn again takes the lead here, as it does in most of the piece.  By way of contrast, some of the piece features slower tempi:  in addition to the ending barcarole there is a slow section in which a sinuous melody in the horn is partially echoed in the strings and reprised in the piano.     - Donald Crockett