30 November -0001
A smaller than normal audience attended the fifth show of Chamber Music New Zealand’s Concert Season 2012 on Monday night. The Zephyr Wind Quintet – Bridget Douglas (flute), Robert Orr (oboe), Philip Green (clarinet), Robert Weeks (bassoon) and Ed Allen (French horn) – played a demanding programme, all composed within the last 90 years.
As section principals in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, all five players are at the top of their game. While indulging in the diversity of their sounds they achieved impeccable ensemble cohesion.
Apart from some occasionally indefatigable staccato lines from the bassoon, the excellent balance allowed each player to shine in all the right places.
Despite all this command of technique and musicianship, the programme was quite challenging for many listeners.
The extreme business of many movements left one yearning for some respite.
There is not a large repertoire for wind quintet, but one or two more relaxing items would have made a better balance in the programme.
That said, there were nevertheless many highlights, such as the “catch me if you can” section in the horn’s cuivre effect in the Francaix Quintet, the jocular Tarantalla, an unexpected familiarity (for me) with Hindemith’s Kleine Kammermusik and the delightfully jolly jig by Ibert.
Overall, I suspect many of the audience may have gone home disappointed that they hadn’t been able to enjoy the immense lyrical possibilities of these instruments and their players.