Venti di Mare (Sea Winds)

Fantasy-Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra

Dan Welcher

Publisher: Elkan-Vogel, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

This work is my sixth in the concerto genre, and my fourth for a solo woodwind instrument. The rather unorthodox form, in which each of the six movements is given a title referring to the winds, could possibly be a delayed result of my two years of living on the Pacific Ocean on the island of Oahu (1990-92). The daily topic of conversation that is universal in Hawaii is the wind: will the trade winds come back today? Or will we still have ?Kona Weather?? (the islanders? term for the sultry, bad-natured wind from the volcano).

Whatever the reason, this piece follows a kind of there-and-back travelogue form: beginning with an unaccompanied introduction entitled ?Calling The Winds?, the piece contains in its 22 minutes an imagined oceanic trip, complete with homecoming. The oboe soloist is thus cast as a kind of voyager, experiencing and reflecting on the changing scenes outside the ship. Each of the movements is thus a new place, a completely new environment. We leave home with ?The Outbound Trades?, set in a barcarole-style rocking 6/8 meter. This is in itself an A-B-A movement, with a faster central episode (a sudden gust, perhaps) framed by the gentler rocking music on both sides. The next movement, ?Scirocco?, is named for the hot, dry wind from North Africa that is said to bring disease to Venice and other ports. It is a diabolical little scherzo: a pure rondo, despite its brevity, with three repetitions of the refrain (always in a different meter) interrupted by two contrasting sections in more even meters.

The central movement appears without pause (marked ?Suddenly Becalmed?), and is called ?The Doldrums?. This is the band at the equator where the opposing trade winds cancel each other out, and which used to cause sailing ships to founder, sometimes for weeks, with no wind at all. It?s a ternary movement, with cadenza passages for the soloist on either side of a sad, nearly motionless processional, characterized by the constant tolling of an unmoving single note in the horns. This ends, also without pause, with the faintest flutterings of a breeze; and we are ?Recalling The Winds?, echoing the opening of the concerto. The winds gradually build, and after quite a bit of fidgeting with the sails, we?re on our way again. ?The Homeward Trades? is not a literal repeat of ?The Outbound Trades?, though---it contains an arching counter-melody that had been heard earlier in the piece, lending the return a nostalgic sense that is more complex than a pure recapitulation. Our solo voyager ends his journey on a long held note, rocked back to sleep by the sea winds.

"Venti di Mare" has an Italian name because it was completed at Bellagio, on Lake Como in northern Italy, in the summer of 1998. It is dedicated to John Snow, a marvelous oboist and a dear friend, and was commissioned by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra with generous support from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Available on Rental

Scores & Parts

Venti di Mare (Sea Winds) - Full Score - Study

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra with generous support from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
Composition Date 1998
Duration 23:00
Orchestration Solo Ob.; 2(Picc.) 0 1 1 - 2 1Perc. Pno. Hp. Str.
Premiere 11th, 13th February, 1999. John Snow, oboe, Rochester Philharmonic, conducted by Peter Bay


I. Introduction ("Calling The Winds")
II. The Outbound Trades
III. Scirocco (Scherzo/Rondo)
IV. Doldrums (Equatorial)
V. Recalling The Winds
VI. The Homeward Trades