ALPINE CHAMBER WINDS AND LESLIE HARLOW, “AN EVENING OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC,” Leona Wagner Black Box Theater, Rose Wagner Center, April 5
Presenting a full length concert featuring three world premieres along with two major 20th century works can be a daunting task for a woodwind quintet, but Utah Valley University’s Alpine Chamber Winds showed its mettle Tuesday evening. They played a program that challenged their skills and stamina – and they dazzled the audience. The group, which has been playing together only since last August, performed as if they’ve been together for years. Their ensemble skills and collaborative efforts were as spectacular as their musicality and technical acumen. The five members that make up the Alpine Chamber Winds (Mary Richards, flute; Jayne Drummond, oboe; Matthew Nelson, clarinet; Jeb Wallace, horn; Brian Hicks, bassoon) are all wonderfully talented and were in top form physically and musically as they tackled some rather demanding works.
Tuesday’s concert, presented in conjunction with UVU and the Contemporary Music Consortium, focused on commissioned works by three young composers. All three works were uniquely different and have the potential of becoming part of the woodwind quintet repertoire.
The first of the three was Scott L. Wise’s Music from the Pathless Woods, Song of the Lonely Shore. Wise presents the five instruments in different timbral combinations that create some interesting textures. This eventually coalesces into all five playing together. There is a cohesiveness to the piece, however, and the ensemble captured that and brought out the lyricism of the music wonderfully.
Eric Flesher’s Primary Colors builds on some dense textures with slowly evolving sounds created through ever changing instrumentations. The score is complex, rhythmically compelling and marvelously colorful. The quintet maneuvered its way through the work nimbly and played it with a luminescence that brought an added dimension to the music.
Anne Drummond’s All Souls rounded out the trio of new works. Diatonic and melodic, the piece definitely looks back to previous centuries for its harmonic language and sound and was played with polish by the group.
Bookending these works were two staples of the repertoire: Samuel Barber’s Summer Music, op. 31, and Elliott Carter’s 1948 Woodwind Quintet. In the Barber, the group captured the work’s exquisite lyricism with their radiant account. It was nuanced and wonderfully expressive. The Carter, on the other hand, was dynamic, forceful and rhythmically vibrant. The five brought exuberance and energetic drive to their reading.
Rounding out the concert was Timeless, a short film with recorded and live music composed and performed by Leslie Harlow on viola. The film consists of constantly moving images of hands. Accompanying it was a soundtrack recorded by Harlow on a five string viola and a traditional viola, together with other sounds. Superimposed on that was Harlow playing a second viola part that complemented and completed the film and recorded track. It was visually and aurally compelling, and there was a cohesiveness to the whole that made it feel organic and natural.