Sunday, April 1, 2012

Gary Dranch & Friends

(Mostly) French Chamber Music
Works for me.

The Program:
Caprice sur des airs Danois et Russe pour piano, flute, oboe, et clarinette, Op. 79, Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921)

Quintet in E-Flat for Piano & Winds, Op. 16 for Piano, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, french [sic] horn, Ludwig v. Beethoven (1770–1827)

TRIO en UT (1936), Claude Arrieu (1903–1990)

Sextet for Piano & Winds pour piano, flute, hautbois, clarinette, bassoon et cor, (1932, rev. 1939), Francis Poulenc (1899–1963).

Whew! French is hard. What a great concert! Woodwind writing means squeaks, squawks, chirpy, spiky music—it comes with the territory.

The Saint-Saëns was a bit oddly constructed—though everyone had a chance to shine in a solo, there were nice back and forth tosses with all three of the wind instruments. While folk themes abounded, I expected a bit more sophistication from Saint-Saëns; still, it was a very enjoyable piece.

The Beethoven was a more firm composition, though I found the piano and horn writing a bit out of place at times. The three movements were slightly varied, but I found the piano intro followed by the tutti writing a bit formulaic and uninspired. But it was Beethoven—so the music was inspired in its own right. There was a real chamber music feel to this piece—I felt as though I could have been in a private salon listening to friends get together to play some fun music.

The Arrieu (a composer I know not at all), was interesting, but my cryptic notes say “avant-garde? youthful work? avant-garde more in sound than format?” It was definitely spiky-chirpy. And it was most definitely a warm-up for the Poulenc.

The Poulenc Sextet. Ahhh! Allegro Vivace, Divertissement, Finale. Notes to myself: Stronger compositional techniques; making more of a statement, musically; a real concert piece. With the first movement, I wrote Lush. Movement 2, I wrote Lush x 2. For the Finale, I wrote, “Back to spiky, but much more thorough, once again.”

Throughout, the playing was very good. The oboist played very well; flute, quite well, with a few patchy spots; bassoon, spot-on; clarinet, very good—in every piece! The pianist was also very good. The horn player started off a bit shaky, but improved in the Poulenc (I think the writing was better/more organic).

Chamber music that is varied, with very good ensemble players, is a very good thing. I’m really glad I attended this concert today.


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