for Oboe (and optional English horn), Violin, Viola, Cello, and Bass
The oboe part may be played entirely on the oboe, but the composer’s preference is that the second movement be played on the English horn.
The second movement, “Slow Dance,” is also available as a standalone work for English horn (or soprano sax) and string orchestra (or quintet).
This piece was commissioned by George SjÃ¶berg of Cambridge, MA as a 50th anniversary gift for his wife Linda.
I. First Sight
A sonata-form movement that begins with a bold and Beethovenian statement, a theme dominated by strings. The second theme is a long melody for the oboe, demure but romantic. The development section is a dramatic working-out of the first theme, which finds its way back to a recapitulation of the opening material. This is followed by a bluesy coda.
II. Slow Dance
This movement begins with an introductory theme for the trio of violin, viola, and cello, which is followed by a jazz ballad for the English horn. The interior section of the movement is a solo for the bass, followed by a second statement of ballad theme, with a few ornaments and variations, along the lines of an improvisation.
III. Wedding Day
This movement begins with church bells ringing and then opens onto a festive dance scene. The music makes an allusion to Beethovenâ€™s â€œWaldsteinâ€ sonata and then gives the strings brass-like fanfares, which become a central motif.
The fiddle launches into a country reel (a variation on the first theme from the first movement), but the music eventually finds its way back to the first movement’s romantic second theme. After that, the dance tune returns, as do the fanfares and the church bells from the opening of the movement.
Underneath these, the bass intones an â€œAmenâ€ cadence as the music winds down. Thereâ€™s one final surprise though, a virtuosic coda based on the reel, leading to a an energetic conclusion.