I spent 25 years in the Air Force and had no idea we fielded a woodwind quintet. Turns out they are extremely good. Still, there is bound to be some degree of cognitive dissonance when hearing the word “military” juxtaposed with “Woodwind Quintet through the Years.”
The quintet is part of the larger U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West, based out of Travis Air Force Base in California. It’s probably the only time you’ll learn how many missions the Air Mobility Command has flown while you listened to airmen play composers Giuseppe Cambini, August Klughardt and Jacques Ibert (it’s 45, if you were wondering).
The first half of the show ran through six exemplars of a particular style and period. The songs ranged from Movement III of Cambini’s Quintet No. 2 in D minor (1802) to the modern Argentinian snap of Astor Piazzolla’s “Libertango.” The dominant sound was french horn and oboe glissandi ripping through thumping bassoon.
After the intermission, they shifted into traditional military band territory, most notably Aaron Copland’s “Variations on a Shaker Medley.” The woodwinds closed with a stout (for a quintet) rendition of John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.” ★★★★★