Required recordings, spring 2011

Once again it’s time for required recordings.

This semester, I’m having my each of my students add a good chamber music recording to their library. The students required to buy these recordings are technically enrolled in applied lessons, which means they study solo repertoire, although I do also coach some of them in chamber music. But even those whose degree requirements don’t specify chamber group participation ought to have at least the most passing of acquaintances with chamber music for their instrument.

For the saxophonists, choosing a format was simple enough—the saxophone quartet is the only significant chamber music setting with saxophones (although I did consider using this recording).

For the other reed players, I considered some options (double reed quartets, clarinet quartets or choirs, bassoon quartets…) but ultimately settled on a wind quintet recording for the clarinetists and double reeders. This may be the only chamber recording I require any of them to buy during the course of their 4-year (well, hopefully 4-year) education—I could possibly choose one more in another couple of years—and I wanted to make it count. The wind quintet tradition is rich and, in woodwind terms, long.

As usual, I was looking for good collections of fairly standard repertoire by exemplary musicians, reasonably priced and readily available. I had to steer clear of some tempting wind quintet choices by outstanding European groups, since I wanted to make sure my students are absorbing American-school ideas about tone. I also gave strong consideration to a great 2-disc set by the Utah Saxophone Quartet (which includes a couple of my former teachers; incidentally, all four members are really excellent doublers and they play some nice clarinet quartets on this recording, too), which I ultimately passed on because it’s not (yet?) available on iTunes and I’m trying to be 21st-century enough not to demand that my students buy physical discs.

So here’s what I finally settled on:

Borealis Wind Quintet, A La Carte: Short Works for Winds

Find it on: Amazon | iTunes

Repertoire: Rota Petite Offrande Musicale, Farkas Hungarian Dances, Beach Pastorale, Schuller Suite, Grainger: Walking Tune, Turrin: Three Summer Dances, Persichetti: Pastoral, Milhaud: La Cheminee du Roi Rene, Briccialdi: Potpourri Fantastico

This album was nominated for a Grammy award in 2006.

New Century Saxophone Quartet: Standards

Find it on: Amazon | iTunes

Repertoire: Singelee Quartet No. 1, Desenclos Quartet, del Borgo Quartet, Mintzer Quartet No. 1, Torke July