Robert Ehle
Quintet for Winds and Piano, Op.91:
Flute, B-flat clarinet, tenor saxophone, bass trombone, piano

Winter Park, Florida, United States
Publisher: Wehr's Music House
Date of Publication: 2016

Score and parts


Chamber music that includes bass trombone as an equal partner—as opposed to as a solo instrument—is an attractive genre that allows for creative mixing of timbres. Robert Ehle’s Quintet for Winds—flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone, and bass trombone with piano—is an attractive entry into the repertoire. It is neither harmonically conservative nor especially adventurous, and its second movement is a simple but satisfying chorale with ubiquitous piano arpeggios reminiscent of Eric Ewazen’s Pastorale. The finale, “Fandango,” which begins with a five measure solo for bass trombone, does test the bass trombonist’s endurance, as it requires not only a secure c1 played forte, but it consists of a repeated riff that stays above the staff for virtually the entire movement. “Fandango” is much better suited for tenor rather than bass trombone.

Picking nits is an unwelcome exercise but unfortunately it must be said that the printing of the Quintet leaves a great deal to be desired. Wehr’s Music House (or the composer himself?) seems to have spent little time making a score and set of parts that expresses clear intentions and is easy to read. The second movement includes no dynamics for any part and articulations and other playing instructions are few in number. The piano’s arpeggios in the second movement are a blurry collision of overlapping notes and unreadable accidentals. The pianist must read from the full score which means turning pages with annoying frequency. Also, the score is stapled but its right edge has not been trimmed, making getting a grip on those oft-turned pages difficult. These considerable faults with the layout and printing of the Quintet are hurdles that performers should not need to jump over after having paid a hefty price to purchase the music. Those who persevere will be rewarded even if they need to make some decisions that should have been clearly expressed on the printed page.

Reviewer: Douglas Yeo
Review Published June 24, 2019