The architectural concerns posed by the combination of the technical, textural, and colouristic boundaries of a woodwind quintet, on the one hand, and an extended duration, on the other, resulted in a work of unusual imagination and depth – almost symphonic in scope.
Reflective, intense, and playful in turn, Woodwind Quintet contains a wealth of skilfully shaped melodic, harmonic, and gestural configurations, which evolve gradually, constantly feeding the dramatic interest of the piece.
A high degree of contrast, frequently shifting focus, and a variety of registrar and textural detours further heighten the sense of drama, while the subtle details add to the finishing touches within the rich fabric of the Quintet.
While this work incorporates aspects of controlled aleatory procedures and 12-tone pitch organization, it also retains the intense, highly concentrated elements of post-tonal harmonic language, marking Koprowski’s predilection for synthesis.
At the centre of the work, approximately at the 20 minute mark, stands embedded a metaphorical quote from Koprowski’s earlier choral madrigal with simultaneous reference to a historical Polish song. For a brief moment it appears as an inevitable point of arrival for all the threads tightly knit like a tapestry throughout the piece, only to be swept away again by the turbulent passages summing up the entire work.
Written especially to highlight the virtuosity and versatility of the commissioner, the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet, the work is designed in one continuous and relentless movement of approximately 25 minutes in duration.
Completed in 1992, Woodwind Quintet was the winner of the 1994 Jules Leger Prize for chamber music.