Navona Records proudly presents MUSIC FOR WOODWINDS from composer Scott Pender, his fourth appearance on the label. On this album, Pender showcases his chamber works for woodwinds from the last thirty years in ensemble combinations both common and unfamiliar.
The Washington Post has praised Pender’s “good ear for melody and keen sense for the dramatic.” The music on this album is no different: lyricism abounds throughout. In the lighthearted Kimchi Dreams for two clarinets and bassoon, Pender conjures gentle, dreamy imagery, balancing two lyrical pieces with two quirky, rhythmically charged ones. The cinematic Variations for Oboe & Piano uses the classic theme-and-variations form to paint a broad canvas which dissolves into a veiled memory at the end. The dramatic Suite for Woodwind Quintet features bubbling, energetic outer movements surrounding a contemplative Adagio. The lower registers are used to great effect in rich, open chordal writing. The most candid and emotional work on the album, Lyric Set for bassoon and piano, fully exploits the wide range of the bassoon. The movements carry descriptive titles: from the flowing opening of “In the Tide of Times,” followed by the reflective simplicity of “Every Day Is Saturday” – then the stubborn humor of “Lord Berners’ Giraffe,” and ending with the sad grandeur of “Hopeful about the Past.” The remaining pieces—Toccatina for flute quartet and Five Dances for bassoon quartet—add an extra element of rhythmic excitement. Toccatina draws a bright, crisp portrait using the flutes’ upper register contrasting with an emerging melody in the bass flute. In Five Dances the contrabassoon adds depth and drive to the strikingly rich sound of the bassoon chorus.