Soloists - Alone And As A Group - Performed An Entertaining, Diverse Program

Concert Review - The Newtown Bee, Friday, February 14, 2003

by June April

In the many years of experiencing concerts sponsored by the Newtown Friends
of Music, this reviewer cannot recall a more varied program than the one
presented last Sunday afternoon at Edmond Town Hall. The New York Chamber
Soloists is a most interesting group because it is not only a group of
fine musicians with a large and diverse repertoire, but the flexibility
with which a group of instruments is used is also quite intriguing. For
the February 9 concert in Newtown the group opted to go with four wind
instruments: bassoon, clarinet, flute and oboe came from New York City
to perform.

The Soloists opened the program with an absolutely charming work, Mozart's
Divertimento No.4 in B-flat Major, K.439b, and one could not help but
be captivated by the technical expertise of founder Melvin Kaplan's oboe
performance, the perfect tones created by bassoonist Andrew Schwartz,
or Allen Blustine's velvet clarinet skills.

Interesting information about the music or its composer was peppered throughout
the program and added to the appreciation of what was being heard.

Flutist David Fedele joined Mr Blustine for Brazilian composer Hector
Villa-Lobos' Chorus No 2 for Flute and Clarinet. The rhythmic magnetism
was captivating and had that pulsating character that marks Villa-Lobos'
compositions.

The range of mood and melodic variations of Igor Stravinsky's Three Pieces
for Solo Clarinet began with a very brief and rather sad spirit. The second
piece sounded much like a host of birdcalls, while the final short work
recalled a mixture of jazz, ragtime and Latin beat and ended with a smile-producing
grace note.

The remainder of the program had a French stamp on it: either the composer
was from that country or had been a student of the famous piano teacher-conductor
Nadia Boulanger. Walter Piston (whose writings on harmony and music theory
are still used in music class today) and Arthur Berger both studied under
Boulanger and continued in her tradition of teaching their love and knowledge
of music.

Piston's Three Pieces for Flute, Clarinet and Bassoon continued the afternoon's
program, as did Berger's Quartet in C Major for Flute, Oboe, Clarinet
and Bassoon, which offered a large degree of contrast between the three
movements.

Darius Milhaud's Suite d'apres Corrette, Opus 161b for Oboe, Clarinet
and Bassoon had eight quite different segments - "Entrée et
Rondeau", "Tambourin", "Musette", "Serenade",
"Fanfare", "Rondeau", "Menuet" and "Le
Coucou". Meter varied greatly, as did the nature of each of these,
with the final piece heralding the cuckoo bird.

Sharing the tale of the nymph Syrinx, David Fedele preceded his solo performance
of Debussy's work of the same name by explaining that basically it is
the story of how the god Pan pursued this lovely spirit and in order to
protect her or put a kybosh on the potential relationship, the Greek gods
changed her into reed plants. Pan gathered them up and created the instrument
(syrinx is Greek for panpipes), which brings such a lovely, melancholy
tone to the musical world. Mr Fedele's performance shimmered.

The afternoon's final presentation, a piece created by Jean Francaix,
once again involved all four musicians. Now in his early 90s, the composer
is still writing music, and this one conjured images of ballet dancers
in this reviewers mind. Actually, each movement conjured different mental
pictures. The "Allegro molto" was especially delightful and
felt like bubbles appearing and bursting, while the Allegro vivo recalled
a gossipping/chit-chatting circle of women. Overall, there was a jocular
quality to this wonderful piece of music.

The range of Mozart to modern music did not cause anyone to leave after
intermission and that was because of the educational and musical expertise
of the four gentlemen on stage. The New York Chamber Soloists brought
joy and warmth to an otherwise cold afternoon.