Reviews ...

North Shore Wind Quintet proves breezy and bright

 ... a lovely program of fine musicians on a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon

by Jackie Wattenberg

Wind quintets or quartets are not so numerous as string groups. Their individual sounds are not so related as are string instruments. But on Sunday afternoon the North Shore Wind Quintet demonstrated how interesting and even lively such a group can be if it has an impressive program to perform.

Presented by the Beethoven Society in Melrose's Unitarian Universalist Church, the group played with a secure and rewarding flow through works by modernist Persichetti, Mozart, Rimsky-Korsakov, 20th century Gyorgi Ligeti and one of their own members, bassoonist Roger McClentic.

"Chacun a son gout," say the French -- each to his own taste. So some reveled in the Mozart, which brought pianist Alan Balsbaugh to add a sort of communing cement to the varied voices, his own flourishes of Mozart secured and graceful. This work allowed each player -- no flute in this one -- a nice chance to solo Mozartian themes. A pleasing bit of syncopation and interesting chromatic passages were well presented.

For this listener, the charmer was Ligeti's "Six Bagatelles," minus one. Each section was original, confident and often amusing, actually evoking chuckles from the fair crowd, which should have been greater for such a fine performance. Free in tonalties, inventive in melody and harmony, it was fresh and fancy-free. The Rubata lamentose drew some fine shrieking from flute and oboe, the Presto was jazzy with syncopation, a frequent show of impertinence and jauntiness was winning, the bassoon often given a jolly obligato. Seldom do we hear such sound scoring with such mirth.

Bassoonist McClentic's "Article II, Section 3" was quite pleasing, with some playful elements including jaunty oom-pah-pahs for himself, but also some plaintive melodies passed around.

All of the musicians performed deftly -- flutist Christie Gawlacki; oboist Walter Barnie, a Beethoven member who has played with the Melrose Symphony; Annalisa Peterson, a member of the Melrose Symphony who teaches calculus at Melrose High School; clarinetist Lori Fowser; and Mr. McClentic, who is principal bassoon fpr Melrose's Symphony Orchestra.

Pianist Balsbaugh returned after the Ligeti, back to basics with Rimsky-Korsakov's quintet for winds and piano -- oboe not included. Less exotic than we would expect, it had forceful moments and a traditional flow for the instruments and to shine in solo moments. Again, the pianist's playing was impressive.

There was never a dull moment in the program, beginning with the opening work by contemporary composer Vincent Persichetti, a charming "Pastoral" with close dissonant textures and light frisky moments.

All in all, a lovely program of fine musicians for a lovely sunny Sunday afternoon.

September 23, 2000

This review was previously published in the Melrose Free Press on September 21, 2000 and is reprinted here with their permission.

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