Sunday, April 28, 2013

Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet

- - -

I almost couldn't get tickets for this Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet concert... The tickets sell out frustratingly early. All the retirees in the area buying up season tickets months in advance!

It was amusing to see the only gal in the group (may or may not be the youngest?) holding the biggest stick (i.e. bassoon). Their program was refreshing, spring-like, and most of all whimsical. Only musicians of their caliber can pull this off! I had a lot of fun visualizing dramatic scenarios during the pieces...

W. A. Mozart (1756-1791), Fantasy in F Minor for a Mechanical Organ, KV 608 (Arr. by Michael Hasel): Mozart being the timeless classic he is, I had no salient mental imagery other than the abstract notion of spring and joy. This seemed to be their warm-up piece, as I felt they were tweaking some intonation along the way. I know this because once the air inside the instrument gets cold, it takes a few minutes to warm it up and get the pitches right again! Mmm wave physics.

Kalevi Aho (b.1949), Kvintetto (2006): Wild safaris with cave spelunking, scuba diving, jungle trekking, and desert traversing. Along the way, the travelers encountered a pair of elephants lumbering in heat, a mixed chorus of howler monkeys and macaws, a near-death experience of almost crashing into a cliff in a propeller plane, and an explosive symphony of color-shifting corals, tropical fishes, and octopi. The last movement starts with the flute, oboe, and clarinet playing offstage, and then they come back. And then the French and bassoon leave and play offstage until the end. Curious stage effect.

Jacques Ibert (1890-1962), Trois Piecès Brèves (1930): A lovely garden in the height of spring with serene fountains, butterflies dancing among the flowers, birds chirping amidst the arboreal foliage, and squirrels darting around the branches and tree trunks in their vibrant acrobatics.

Darius Milhaud (1892-1974), La cheminée du roi René (1939): Young Franciscan monks hiking in an ancient and pristine forest, seeking enlightenment. Magical spirits visit them every once in a while to commune with the monks and make fun of how little they know about the wisdom of the forest.

Jean Françaix (1912-1997), Quintet No. 1 (1948): The Marauders (may or may not include Lily Evans) pulling a Ferris Bueller by ditching their Hogwarts classes for a day, solemnly swearing they're up to no good. They must be constantly looking out for people who might recognize them, but that doesn't stop them from going to a bar and drinking a bit more than they can handle. James and Lily (or Sirius and Remus or some combination thereof) danced around in awkward and silly moves, before Remus reminds everyone they must head back pronto or they would really be in trouble. The next day, while passing time during a boring class hungover, they're planning their next adventure.

The quintet did an encore of a folk song medley that included "Oh Susana" and "Yankee Doodle" among other tunes I couldn't immediately recall :-P I wonder if they have an encore book of folk tune arrangements from every country they've performed in?

I wanted to ask them if any of them can circular breathe, but sneaking backstage seemed to be tricky. Too bad!

No comments:

Post a Comment