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Prevailing Winds: Orlando Philharmonic winds at Plaza Live Theatre

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Orlando Philharmonic winds perform at Plaza Live Theatre

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The Sounds of Summer series – the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s (OPO) summertime concerts featuring music for smaller ensembles – is taking place for the first time at the recently acquired The Plaza Live Theatre. The season continued on Monday with its second concert.

The highlight of the evening was the woodwind section. Clarinet, flute and oboe have never sounded as mellifluous at an OPO event as they did on Monday. As I anticipated on my preview last Friday, the most entertaining piece was Poulenc’s Sextet, a three-movement jest for wind quintet and piano. It starts at a quick pace and it’s stringed by a tightly-woven texture, as if it would collapse under a missed cue or a note held an eighth note too long.

The musicians kept the equipoise of Poulenc’s melodies by feeding off each other, and coming down together for the breathers that come in the middle of the first movement and most of the second movement. The finale allows the horn – sitting for the part was OPO Principal Horn Mark Fischer – to project raspy snarls, befitting of the music’s playful character.

Clarinetist Jackie Glazier may have stolen the show with her warm tone, reedy but not stringy, and well-articulated. She definitely provided the most touching moment of the Beethoven Trio en E-flat: the soothing adagio cantabile. The clarinet takes the melody slowly and serenely, with swift accompaniment by bassoon and piano.

Principal Bassoon Diane Bishop and pianist Keiko Andrews smoothly blended in, taking the melody from the clarinet and providing cushion for Beethoven’s floating clarinet lines. Although the arrangement for trio came from the composer’s own pen, it is not as engaging as the original version for septet.

In the same manner, Principal Oboe Jamie Strefeler projected the unique duck-like timbre of the oboe in all its glory. She appeared to exert a lot of pressure into the instrument’s double-reed mouthpiece, emitting a clear tone with evident control.

Sandra del Cid is a distinguished Central Florida flute player and instructor. She let out a high-pitched tone along Martinů’s Nonet, her tone resonating clear among all nine instruments. The piece allows all instruments to be singled out at intervals, and is especially quirky for pitting the winds against the strings, especially in the beginning.

The string section – Alexander Stevens, violin; Mauricio Cespedes, viola; Jonathan Stillwell, cello; Tye Van Buren – also had short spotlights along the way, although they were outshined by the winds, which might be explained by the title of the evening’s program.

The program was educational insofar as it allowed the audience to perceive the distinct timbres of the instruments from up-close, something that may not always be done when the full orchestra plays at the Bob Carr.

Indispensable to the sound of the orchestra and always effective when employed by an apt orchestrator, a vibrating column of air and a vibrating reed of cane are worlds apart. But, as we witnessed on Monday night, how good they sound together.

To read a preview of this event, click here.

To read the Orlando Sentinel review of the first Sounds of Summer concert this year, click here.

To visit the Orlando Philharmonic’s website, click here.

To visit the website of The Plaza Live Theatre, click here.

To watch a full performance of Martinů’s Nonet, click here.

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