Ending its 42nd season of performances at intimate venues in Greenwich, The Chamber Players, comprising the accomplished first chairs of the GSO, not only put together a fascinating program of works containing two Nonets, two Quintets and a work scored for string quartet, but proceeded to play them with brio and brilliance.
(A Nonet, a work for nine instruments, adds woodwinds and a French horn to the traditional string quartet.) This resulting, instrumentally fascinating program was entitled "Cloud Nine – Winds and Strings Together."
Welcomed by GSO Concertmaster Krystof Wytek, the performance opened with "Sonata for Strings" by Gioachino Rossini, composed when Rossini was only 12, and a tour de force for the violinist, including rapid fingering, embellishments and furbelows, in a melodic, classical movement. The cello, played by Daniel Miller, often repeated the theme. Andantino, in a sad minor key, was a slow, stentorian 4/4 march. A zestful and madly uptempo Allegro, with a motif that passed from instrument to instrument, showed off violist David Cresswell (playing a violin), and Emil Botti, stroking powerfully on his wonderful 300-year-old double bass.
The Martinu "Nonet for Wind Quintet and Strings, H. 374" is a brilliant work, the nine musicians creating nearly the sound of a full symphony. A strong folk statement in Poco Allegro led to urgent drumming motif in the brasses and winds, the French horn lending a rustic country sound, evoking time and memory, a countryside. The energetic mastery of Mr. Wytek led to a lovely flute obbligato by Susan Rotholz, at times a mad waltz, modulating to the wonderful French Horn of Peter Reit. Diane Lesser, oboist, and Phillip Bashor, accomplished clarinetist, added tonal color and flavor
"Partita for Wind Quintet", strongly influenced by Stravinsky, was
redolent of the jazzy influences of the l940's, with wonderful tonalities,
programmatic passages, the bassoon of Mark Davies rapid, the flute soaring. Introduction
and Theme, sprightly and
driving, contained some assonance, some dissonance, and some consonance. Variation was light and prancing, with French horn
speaking through the voices. Interlude was quiet and densely chorded, Gigue, forceful and driving, and Coda, pensive and with triple tonguing in the
French horn and trills in the oboe, was a somber, dense ending, the lone
voice of the clarinet mournfully fading away.
for Wind Quintet and Strings in F Major" by Louis Spohr in the tradition
of Mozart and Haydn, was a four-movement work that was sheer music with
cascading notes in Allegro,
a breathtaking Scherzo Allegro,
featuring Mr. Miller on cello, and mad pizzicato for Mr. Wytek. Adagio began with a sonorous statement, and the
string quartet played and handed over to the winds in an interesting back and
forth of the themes, featuring excellent work by flutist Rotholz. Finale was spritely and rushing, with
explosions of chords, very uptempo, an exuberant conversation. The entire work was very tuneful for a work of the classical period.
as the Spohr work was, for this reviewer the standouts of the concert were the
majestic Martinu, and the dense, graceful and longing work by Irving Fine, who
died at the age of 47.
Linda Phillips' musical reviews in the Greenwich Post and Greenwich Citizen have just won for her the 4th award for Best Column 2013 from the Connecticut Press Club. Her column was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Criticism in 2004, as was her novel "To The Highest Bidder" for fiction. She is an amateur pianist who played with the Amor Artis duo.