Length: c. 15 minutes
Orchestration: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets (1st = E-flat clarinet), bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 3 horns, 2 trumpets, trombone, bass trombone, timpani, percussion (vibraphone, xylophone, snare drum, bass drum, triangle, suspended cymbal, tam-tam, temple blocks), harp, & strings
About this Piece
Previn’s title comes from the often quoted final line of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind: “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” Shelley’s passionate invocation of the West Wind as an agent of change is quite musical itself in both sound and sense, and it seems to have inspired Previn to a rush of sonic imagery – a compact concerto for orchestra in its burgeoning virtuoso solos for individuals and sections alike, in kaleidoscopic combinations.
The wind gusts and swirls from the beginning, with a clear sense of energetic motion and hints of darker currents. There are calmer airs and a grand tune in the middle, however, as the dissonant tonal jostling resolves under the optimistic tug of C major. At the close, recapitulation becomes apotheosis and the wind pushes the promise of spring and rebirth to sudden triumph.
— John Henken