Variations on the Krakowiak by William D. Pardus
For Woodwind Quintet (Flute, Oboe, Clarinet in Bb, Horn in F and Bassoon)
The Krakowiak (Kra-kov-yak) is a traditional Polish folk dance from the Krakow region - characterized by fast duple time and syncopated rhythms. The origins of the Krakowiak are connected with the courtship ritual where several couples would participate in a dance with the male of each couple improvising words to the melody as played by the band. The earliest examples of the Krakowiak rhythm appear in organ music, lute tablatures and songbooks of the 16th and 17th centuries. Most Krakowiak melodic lines are quite angular and commonly begin with an upward-moving motif. Composers who have used the Krakowiak in art music compositions include Chopin and Paderewski. in Variations on the Krakowiak, the theme is introduced by Flute and Bassoon with the other quintet members entering as additional strains are introduced. The "variations" are created by combinations of frequently changing tempos, meters and rhythms, alternations between major/minor and quartal harmonies, diatonic and whole-tone scales, and in each of the variations, a different instrument has a solo or prominently-featured part. Tempo markings are approximate; sections marked "freely" may use an exaggerated rubato - and maintain a sense of humor throughout!!!