Chenonceau, Music for Wind and String Quintets was commissioned by Max Lifchitz and North/South Consonance. The piece is written for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, two violins, viola, cello and contrabass. Chenonceau, one of the most magnificent French castles in the Loire Valley, is known for the formal elegance and beauty of its gardens. A visit on a beautiful day last May with the tulips in their prime inspired the piece. The music starts with one of the composer’s favorite compound meters, which combine groups of varying number of beats. A 4/4 meter consists of eight eighth-notes, which have been re-grouped in a pattern of 3 + 3 + 2. This compound meter propels the piece forward, and can be easily juxtaposed against 4/4. The texture has been varied by using different combinations of the instruments, not using all the instruments at the same time, and by contrasting the winds against the strings. Melodic ideas are passed from one instrument to the next, sometimes by starting with the lowest instrument, and adding in the voices above one at a time, reminiscent of a fugue.
Chenonceau was recorded on An Orchestral Journey with a full compliment of strings, rather than a string quintet.