Wind Ensemble Review Print



Sunny Summer Sunday Serenade

July 14, 2002 - Chapel Hill, NC:


The second musical offering in the new series sponsored by Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library in that facility's meeting room beneath the children's books section on July 14 was provided by the Triangle Wind Quintet. The patter of running feet, alas not in tempo as the oboist cracked, was heard at several points during the performance, but it did not overly disturb. Members of this group included two free-lance professionals, two retirees who kept up their musical skills throughout their professional lives in other fields, and one like the latter who is still working - as Nan Keohane's speech writer! They are, respectively, Kim Allemang, flute, Susan Cummings, bassoon, Jerry Hulka, French horn, Alex Vogel, clarinet, and Paul Baerman, oboe.

The approximately 75-minute program, given with a five-minute break midway, featured mostly original works for winds - there were two arrangements - ranging from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The opener was Haydn's Feldsonata in B-flat, a divertimento whose second movement includes the Chorale St Antoni, source of Brahms' lovely, if overplayed, Variations for orchestra. It was delightful to hear the source work in its entirety. After two brief French works, the moderato movement from Charles Lefebvre's Suite, Op. 57 (I'd have liked to have heard the whole work), and Adrien Barthe's "Passacaille," programmed in deference to the significance of the date, the first half closed with Franz Danzi's Wind Quintet in G Minor.

Arrangements of "Scarborough Fair" and of Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag" (the latter unattributed) opened the second half. They were the least successful pieces; the tempi and the textures just didn't "feel" quite right. Next up were three movements (why not all of them?) from American Arthur Frackenpohl's "A French Suite," and the program concluded with Hungarian-American Denes Agay's "Five Easy Dances," whose title contains the keyword to the rhythms of many of the works presented. As the afternoon progressed, we had three minuets, an allemande, a gavotte, a polka, a tango, a bolero, a waltz and a rumba. Upbeat tempi always work better for these instruments and this music than slower ones do. The works were all filled with bright, tuneful melodies. Agay and Frackenpohl, though born in the first quarter of the last century (1911 and 1924, respectively), are both still alive, the latter having retired after a more-than-50-year career at SUNY Potsdam, NY's equivalent of UNCG.

Performance was good throughout the program. Notes on composers and works, and artist bios, were all succinct, good, and well written. Composers' life dates were given in the notes rather than in the listing as is customary, however, so they had to be hunted for in the continuous-text format. Had those notes been formatted like the artist bios, the printed program would have been a bit more user-friendly.

It was an altogether charming and pleasant way to spend an afternoon while a shower brought some much-needed precipitation outside, where much of this music was originally intended - to wit, the Haydn title - to be played. This was the group's first outing with this name and personnel. We hope it will not be its last.