The wind quintet, consisting of flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon, is a very unique instrumental combination that has been carried from the 18th century through to modern times. The great variety of timbres and techniques in all five instruments make it a microcosm of sorts of the symphony orchestra. With the addition of piano and/or strings, the combo can traverse the full spectrum of musical texture, dynamics and emotional nuances.
For this particular occasion, the OPO members will perform three representative selections with different instrumentation each.
Bohuslav Martinů was a 20th century Czech composer, perhaps less known than his countryman Leoš Janáček. Martinů’s nonet (wind quintet, string trio and double bass) is a light piece grounded in the classical tradition. The piece effectively manages to spotlight almost all nine instruments, without losing sight of structure. A high-spirited short motif for clarinet opens the nonet, with accompaniment from the ensemble. The motif and its light mood are quickly picked up by other instruments. The piece eventually branches out into slightly different tonal areas, and the contrasts between woodwinds and strings are kept in balance by the characteristic sound of the French horn.
The most fun selection is Poulenc’s sextet. A member of the French elite group known as Les Six, Francis Poulenc’s music is imaginative, sometimes humorous, and always progressive. The classic wind quintet is augmented by piano and featured prominently. The music starts in a playful mood, almost jocular, particularly because of the nasal sound of the bassoon, the squawking of the oboe and the raspy technique in the horn. The sextet is remarkable for its brisk changes in tempo and tight structure, effectively making its point and brimming with musicality in three short movements.
The main piece of the evening will be Beethoven’s opus 38, of which there are two versions. Announced on the OPO’s website as “Trio, op. 38,” the ensemble is most likely performing the septet version for clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, and double bass.
This is a piece from the early period of the genius from Bonn, and it is steeped in the music of Haydn and Mozart. The clarinet plays a major role, and the piano accompaniment holds the ensemble together, taking the lead in certain sections.
The 10-minute opening movement, with its minor-key modulation, introduces some of the material that is to come and much of the overall mood. The theme and variations from the fifth movement are particularly interesting, with note values being shortened, rhythmic nuances changing and tonalities morphing, while still retaining the core of the theme.
The six movements are clearly demarcated, and the forms are clearly discernible, making for enjoyable listening, although not as engaging as the masterworks that were to come from the same pen, or as Poulenc’s sextet. The respective performances by the OPO members will have to be the judge, at least on this particular occasion.
Monday, July 7, 2014 7 p.m.
The Plaza Live Theatre (425 N. Bumby Ave, Orlando)
Featuring: Sandra del Cid-Davies, flute • Jamie Strefeler, oboe • Jackie Glazier, clarinet • Diane Bishop, bassoon • Mark Fischer, horn • Alexander Stevens, violin • Mauricio Céspedes, viola • Jonathan Stilwell, cello • Tye Van Buren, bass • Keiko Andrews, piano
BEETHOVEN Trio, op. 38
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