Baroque quintet–40”

A suite based on the Baroque idea of the Doctrine of Affections mixes traditional practice with modern techniques, old ideas with new sounds.

Listen to movements 1–4 here.

Preview the score:

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Recorder, oboe, violin, bassoon, harpsichord
40′ duration
Commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Premiere–2010, St. Paul, Minnesota, by the Blue Baroque Band: Clèa Galhano, recorder, Kathy Greenbank, oboe, Daria Adams, violin, Chuck Ullery, bassoon, Layton James, harpsichord.

  • Joy: Morning Hymn
  • Gaiety: Allegro concertante
  • Tenderness: Air
  • Jollity: Jig Fugue
  • Love: Serenade
  • Mirth: Hornpipe
  • Fury: Toccata
  • Melancholy: Chanson
  • Sorrow: Tombeau
  • Reflection : Winter Landscape
  • Celebration: Rigaudon
  • Contemplation: Chorale
  • Wonder: Evening Hymn

Program Note

It’s an idea whose time has gone: centuries ago, an informal Doctrine of Affections guided aesthetics, suggesting that a single emotion should characterize a movement or work. This work, Affections, revives that antique notion, playing on it to celebrate a festive occasion with new music for an old-fashioned ensemble.

A hymn opens and closes the work as it progresses through a day from Joy to Wonder. As in the Tafelmusik of Telemann, there is a concerto (Gaiety–Tenderness–Jollity), followed by an assortment of dances and character pieces.

There are many nods to Baroque practice. In the interest of textural variety, the harpsichord moves back and forth between basso continuo, where chord figures supplement a bass, and obbligato, where notes are specified. The bassoon is often freed from a bass function, ranging over its three-octave compass. Four different recorders are called for, from tenor to sopranino. The violin role is the most varied: it is often called upon to play the tenor in ensemble, though it ranges well above the oboe at times, but its ability to play chords and contribute pizzicato enable it to be accompanist or as desired.

Affections was commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra with support from Jane and Dobson West for the Blue Baroque Band, a subset of the SPCO. I had worked with The BBB on Clarissa Graceful, a cantata for soprano and ensemble.


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