Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Another unexpected performance in Omaha.....

The Omaha Chamber Music Society, as part of its Summer Concert Series, presented a program that included:
Beach: Pastorale for Woodwind Quintet (1942)
Francaix- Wind Quintet No. 1 (1948)
Poulenc- Sextet for Piano and Winds (1932)
The program only lists the musicians' names rather than a group name.

The OCMS deserves great credit for programming music written rather recently, at least in terms of the history of classical music.  And in spite of that, there were roughly 200-250 patrons in the audience. 
Amy Beach was the foremost woman composer in America during her lifetime.  Her "Pastorale" is beautiful, easily evoking a simpler more beautiful place.  It is too bad that her music is not programmed more frequently.  While Amazon lists a fair number of recordings of Beach's music, she seems not to appear on many symphonic schedules.  It is time to correct this error.

The Francaix is a frothy confection.  It seems overly mannered and polite.  It is humorous but seems more French-elegant that substantial. 

The Poulenc also suffers a bit from glimmer and gloss.  It doesn't seem to plunge great depths, but then great music is not required to.  In some sections of this work, Poulenc seems to foreshadow the repetitive figures and themes of the minimalist composers, but he uses this repetition sparingly so that it does not have the same hypnotic effect.

This performance was preceded by a brief discussion of the music led by flautist Maria Harding.  She was informative and charming.  While playing Ms. Harding, who is Principal flute of the Omaha Symphony, coaxes a golden mellow sound from her instrument.  This is in contrast to the sometimes too metallic sound that can be heard in many orchestras. 

Ryan Heseltine was the horn player.  His playing was outstanding.  His intonation was right on and he did not slide into the notes.  He performed impressively with a muted horn.  Mr. Heseltine performs on French horn with the Brass in Blue brass ensemble, Concert Band and Ceremonial Band of the United States Air Force Heartland of America Band, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.  He would be a catch for a major orchestra like the Atlanta Symphony (see some of my other reviews for background).

James Compton played the bassoon and made his instrument sing.  Carmelo Galante played the clarinet, and also was outstanding.  Jason Sudduth was on oboe.  All three musicians were stellar.

Finally Yulia Kalahnilova played the piano in the Poulenc.  She was strong, with a good sense of nuance and passion.

Overall this was a very rewarding concert.  It was a bit expensive ($18) for an hour and a half performance, but the Omaha Chamber Music Society mostly lives off of ticket sales, so the expense was worth it. 

I came away from the concert reflecting on the high quality of the performers and the performance.  There is much musical talent across the country and Omaha is fortunate to have some highly skilled musicians.  I hope that the OCMS has a long and prosperous life bringing great music to the heartlands. 


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